Six design teams announced for Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta International Design Competition

Fresh collaborations between emerging and seasoned practices and between Australian and international studios chosen to create concept designs

07 Powerhouse Precinct Shortlist Image

1 Amanda Levete, ©AL_A; 2 Maximiliano Arrocet, ©AL_A; 3 Gabriel Duarte, ©Bernardes Architecture; 4 Matt Chan, ©Scale Architecture; 5 Carlo Ratti, ©Carlo Ratti Associati; 6 Ninotschka Titchkosky, ©BVN Architecture; 7 Tai Ropiha, John Choi and Steven Fighera, ©CHROFI; 8 Reko Rennie, ©Emily Weaving; 9 Hiroko Kusonoki and Nicolas Moreau, ©Moreau Kusonoki; 10 Steven Toia and Marc Debney, ©Genton; 11 Roberto Bannura, ©Steven Holl Architects; 12 Steven Holl, ©Steven Holl Architects.

  • Six finalist teams chosen to create concept designs
  • Teams include collaborations between emerging and established practices and Australian and international talent
  • 74 teams (including 529 individual firms) entered the open two-stage competition

Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin, today [9/8 May 2019] announced the six design teams shortlisted for the landmark new Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta, Sydney.

The Powerhouse Precinct is the largest cultural infrastructure project currently being undertaken in Australia. It will transform and renew one of Australia’s oldest and most important cultural institutions, setting an international benchmark in cultural precinct design.

The competition – focused on a 24-hour museum that will showcase the internationally-significant Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) collection and support a dynamic program of changing exhibitions – welcomed both Australian and international design teams. It actively encouraged creative and intellectual collaborations between established and emerging talent.

The finalist international-Australian and Australian teams are (in alphabetical order):

  • AL_A (UK) and Architectus (Australia)
  • Bernardes Architecture (Brazil) and Scale Architecture (Australia)
  • BVN Architecture (Australia) and Carlo Ratti Associati (Italy)
  • CHROFI (Australia) with Reko Rennie (Australia)
  • Moreau Kusunoki (France) and Genton (Australia)
  • Steven Holl Architects (United States) and Conrad Gargett (Australia)

New South Wales Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin, said:

‘Having attracted 74 expressions of interest involving a staggering 529 individual firms from 20 countries, the level of global interest we received has more than justified our excitement in moving forward with this Western Sydney project.
‘I am particularly thrilled to see our finalist teams include Australian lead firms, collaborations between emerging and seasoned practices and between Australian and international talent who have been inspired by the opportunity this bold and exciting project offers.
‘This major investment by the NSW Government will enrich the cultural lives of people in Western Sydney, boost the local economy, create jobs and draw visitors from Australia and world-wide.’

Jury Chair and Chair of the Shortlisting Panel, Naomi Milgrom AO, said:

‘We are grateful to the Australian and international architectural community for the enthusiasm and rigour that ran through the responses. We were excited to have such a field of designers to choose from.
‘This project’s success depends on having faith in creative talent and we achieved our aim – a shortlist strong in fascinating and new collaborations that showed the project’s Australian and international reach. The responses showed a deep interest in the project and its unique promise for the future.’

Professor Barney Glover, MAAS Trust President, said:

‘We look forward the next stage of the competition, which represents the next step in establishing the Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta, a place that will inspire and connect people of all ages and backgrounds and integrate into the cultural life of Parramatta and Greater Sydney.’

MAAS Chief Executive, Lisa Havilah, said:

‘The Powerhouse Precinct will set a new benchmark in cultural placemaking for Greater Sydney and will be a symbol of a new approach to creative activity and engagement. The design will honour MAAS’ extraordinary and rich collection, providing a platform for constantly changing exhibitions and immersive experiences.
‘The Powerhouse Precinct in Parramatta will be the sixth time that the Powerhouse has moved and transformed in response to the needs of a changing city. This new chapter will carry forward the legacy of the 140-year-old institution by creating a place that is welcoming and inclusive of the diverse communities of Greater Sydney.
‘MAAS are excited by the expertise and original thinking shown by the shortlisted teams and welcome the next stage of the competition.’

Craig A. Limkin, Executive Director, Create NSW and Special Adviser to the Jury, said:

‘Parramatta’s new Powerhouse Precinct is the keystone of MAAS’ cultural masterplan to increase access to its collection and community engagement across Greater Sydney.
‘As one of the key strategic priorities in the NSW Cultural Infrastructure Plan, the new museum will enrich the creative ecology of NSW and bring new audiences to MAAS.
‘Having led the development of this project and knowing the high expectations we have set, I am thrilled to see a shortlist with such promise, dynamism and capability.’

The six finalists (see Notes to Editors for media statements) will now attend a site visit in June 2019 and will have three months to develop their concept designs, which will be shown to the public in a physical exhibition and online gallery before the international jury meets.

The finalists were selected by a Shortlisting Panel led by Jury Chair, Naomi Milgrom AO and including competition jury members Kim Crestani, City Architect, City of Parramatta Council; David Gianotten, Managing Partner – Architect, OMA; Lisa Havilah, Chief Executive, MAAS; Wendy Lewin FRAIA, Principal, Wendy Lewin Architect; and David Riches, Head of Projects, Infrastructure NSW. No design was sought at the competition’s first stage – competitors made submissions based on an outline response to the project brief, past experience and team composition.

The Powerhouse museum, the centerpiece of a new arts and cultural precinct, will house Australia’s largest and most advanced planetarium with ultra-high-resolution 3D video and multi-channel immersive audio.

Last month the newly re-elected NSW Liberal-National Government, led by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, confirmed that it had completed the site purchase.

Each finalist team will receive an honorarium of AUD $150,000. The competition process has been endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). The winner announcement is expected in late 2019.

The competition is being organised by independent specialists Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC). For further updates please follow the competition website.



AL_A (UK) and Architectus (Australia)

AL_A is leading a team with Architectus.

AL_A is the award-winning architecture and design studio founded by the RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete CBE with Directors Ho-Yin Ng, Alice Dietsch and Maximiliano Arrocet.

Since its formation in 2009, AL_A has refined an intuitive and strategic approach to design. Collaborating with ambitious and visionary clients, we develop designs that are conceptualised as urban projects, not just buildings, and projects that express the identity of an institution, a city or a nation.

Recently completed projects include the Victoria & Albert Museum Exhibition Road Quarter (2017) in London; the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, commissioned by EDP (2016); Central Embassy (2017), a 1.5million sq ft luxury shopping mall and hotel in Bangkok; and a 13-hectare media campus and a 37,700m2 headquarters building for Sky (2016) in London.

Bernardes Architecture (Brazil) and Scale Architecture (Australia)

Bernardes Architecture (Brazil) and Scale Architecture (Australia) have joined forces to design the new MAAS and Powerhouse Precinct as a truly powerful institution for social, cultural and economic empowerment. This partnership merges two architectural heritages that share more than latitudes and a hemisphere. Both Brazilian and Australian contemporary architectures are rooted in a unique type of modernity that encompasses careful adaptations to each country’s colonial and Indigenous cultures.

To Bernardes and Scale, architecture is a driver for the invigoration of public life, citizenship, equity and identity. The partnership offers a portfolio that includes institutions that have been responsible for reactivating extensive city regions. From the Museum of Art of Rio, which became the gateway to the city’s redeveloped port region, to Brincante Institute, a music school whose building emerged as resistance against São Paulo’s gruesome real-estate speculation, both offices strive in designing for strong cultural institutions.

BVN Architecture (Australia) and Carlo Ratti Associati (Italy)

BVN and Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) are brought together by our shared interest in the impact of digital technologies on our cities, lives and the way buildings should be designed to shape our future.

BVN is an award-winning architecture studio based in Australia and New York, with a 95-year history of work built both within Australia and internationally. BVN as lead entity, has more than $7 billion of public work currently in design and construction. They are leading some of Australia’s most innovative projects in prefabricated mass timber construction, robotics and digitised design processes. CRA is an international design and innovation practice based in Turin, Italy, with branches in New York and London. Led by Carlo Ratti, listed by Wired as one of the ‘50 people who will change the world’, his practice is currently involved in many projects across the globe, merging high-profile design with cutting-edge digital technologies.

CHROFI (Australia) with Reko Rennie (Australia)

CHROFI was founded in 2000 after winning the international competition for TKTS Times Square in New York. The practice is widely recognised for its design excellence and innovation, from fields as varied as planning, architecture, branding and urbanism. CHROFI is renowned for its urban strategy and typological invention. The practice always searches for the most pertinent questions in the quest to explore new possibilities.

For the Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta, CHROFI has partnered with Reko Rennie.

Reko Rennie is an interdisciplinary artist who explores his Aboriginal identity through contemporary media. Through his art, Rennie provokes discussion surrounding Indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments.

Moreau Kusunoki (France) and Genton (Australia)

A fresh architectural collaboration between Paris-based Moreau Kusunoki and Sydney locals Genton as the core creative team to forge the Powerhouse Precinct in Parramatta.

Culture and community are the core of delicate and clean design strategy. Moreau Kusunoki’s Franco-Japanese roots grant a diverse international design culture, complemented by Genton’s proven track record for successfully delivering complex projects locally. The team is both accomplished and dynamic, harnessing established experience and liberating emerging talent.

To realise the full potential of the new Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the team will challenge the conventional programme of the modern-day museum to create a place of collective memory, reflection and community. The collective vision is to instil a lasting memory through the creation of unique environmental experiences, existing in perfect harmony with the evolving social, cultural and physical landscape of the site.

Steven Holl Architects (United States) and Conrad Gargett (Australia)

Steven Holl Architects (SHA) is an award-winning architecture and urban design office based in New York and Beijing. Founded in 1977, the firm has extensive international experience in the arts, campus and educational facilities, and complex urban projects. With each project, the firm explores new ways to integrate an organising idea with the programmatic and functional essence of a building. Rather than imposing a style upon different sites and climates, the unique character of a program and site become the starting point for an architectural idea. Past cultural projects include the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Cité de l’Océan et du Surf, Herning of Contemporary Art Museum, and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art.

SHA has partnered with industry-leading, Sydney-based architectural firm Conrad Gargett to ensure a design that is both world-renowned and responsive to Parramatta’s unique character.