News

Sydney launches international design competition for Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta

Global open two-stage competition calls for creative collaborations for new Sydney icon

© Dianna Snape
  • Global open two-stage competition calls for creative collaborations for new Sydney icon
  • Twenty-four-hour Powerhouse museum will be home to 18,000 sqm of purpose-built exhibition and public spaces, Australia’s most advanced planetarium and its first dedicated learning space devoted to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics)
  • Honorarium for each of (at least) five finalist teams set at AUD $150,000
  • Deadline for submissions 22:00 AEDT / 11:00 GMT Monday 18 March 2019

Australia’s New South Wales Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin, today [24/23 January 2019] launched the open global search for an outstanding, world-class team, with exceptional skills in design and placemaking, for the landmark new Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta, Sydney.

The open two-stage competition welcomes both Australian and international design teams and actively encourages creative and intellectual collaborations between established and emerging talent.

The centrepiece of the precinct is a 24-hour museum, a new global cultural icon, that will be built on the banks of the Parramatta River in Sydney’s newly-designated Central River City, one of the fastest-growing parts of the region.

At the geographical heart of Sydney, the Powerhouse museum represents a major investment by the NSW Government. The new museum will house Australia’s largest and most advanced planetarium with ultra-high-resolution 3D video and multi-channel immersive audio. The museum will deliver Australia’s first dedicated learning space devoted to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

A total of 18,000 sqm of purpose-built exhibition and public spaces will enable the museum – which was founded in the late nineteenth century as the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences (MAAS) and whose major site is currently in Ultimo – to embrace a new curatorial strategy of integrated and immersive programs.

The competition is being organised by independent specialists Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC). The deadline for Expressions of Interest is 22:00 AEDT / 11:00 GMT Monday 18 March 2019. Further details, including how to enter, are given on the competition website.

Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin, said:

‘I am delighted to open this competition as we fulfil our promise to the people of Western Sydney to deliver a major cultural institution they can be proud of.
‘This competition is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a purpose-built Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta that will welcome people from across the world and NSW.’

Mr Harwin encouraged both local and international architects to enter the design competition:

‘We are looking for the best designers from across NSW, Australia and internationally to create this new cultural landmark in Parramatta.’

Jury Chair, Naomi Milgrom AO, said:

‘The new Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta is one of the most exciting cultural projects in Australia.
‘It will play an important role in renewing the places and neighbourhoods where it will be a focus, but more importantly, it will be a catalyst for imagination, connection and creativity in the community.’

Competition Director, Malcolm Reading, said:

‘This competition has been eagerly awaited by the international and Australian design community.
‘The new museum has the potential to remake Parramatta’s relationship with the river and set a benchmark for exemplary design in this fast-developing city.
‘The competition process has been endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects and the jury will be chaired by Australian entrepreneur Naomi Milgrom AO, an outstanding asset for the competition. Ms Milgrom will be joined by MAAS CEO Lisa Havilah, Australian architect Wendy Lewin and international architect David Gianotten of OMA.’

MAAS Chief Executive, Lisa Havilah, said:

‘This is a transformative time for arts and culture in Australia. This next chapter builds upon the museum’s rich history. The Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a renewed museum.’

Interested teams will need to demonstrate capability as a lead architect on a built project of comparable complexity and program of at least AUD $200M or, alternatively, provide evidence of their ability to deliver a buildable, memorable facility exemplifying design excellence within the construction budget for the base building, public realm and pedestrian bridge (set at AUD $400M). International teams will need to partner with a registered Australian architect.

At least five finalist teams will be selected at stage two and each finalist team will receive an honorarium of AUD $150,000.

The designs produced by the shortlisted teams during stage two will be shown to the public in a physical exhibition and online gallery and the project client, Create Infrastructure, will be seeking public feedback on the proposals before the international jury meets.

The jury will be chaired by Naomi Milgrom AO, who received her Order of Australia (AO) for business and community leadership and philanthropy. The much-admired MPavilion in Melbourne is commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, a not-for-profit charitable organisation that exists to initiate and support great public design, architecture and cultural projects.

Full details of the jury who will assess the concept design submissions — which will also include MAAS CEO Lisa Havilah, Australian architect Wendy Lewin and international architect David Gianotten of OMA — will be announced later in the process.

The competition process has been endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). The winner announcement is expected in the second half of 2019.