Adelaide Contemporary

Exhibition now showing until 11 June 2018
Gallery 21 | Free entry

The Adelaide Contemporary Design Competition was a global search for an outstanding design team for a proposed new national cultural destination. The first stage of the competition attracted 107 design teams made up of 525 individual firms from five continents. Six finalist teams were selected by a panel chaired by Michael Lynch AO CBE to develop concept designs.

The winner of the Adelaide Contemporary Design Competition has been announced as Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot. The international competition jury said the winning design “ presented a highly dynamic building for the future...which would create something truly unique for Adelaide”.

The winning design features a suspended rooftop garden, a dramatic ground floor “super lobby” and floating top-floor sky galleries, along with nine flexible gallery spaces. The elevated garden open to the sky is inspired by the Kaurna concept of Minkunthi, meaning “to relax”, with planting of a pre-colonised South Australian landscape, linking the idea of the contemporary to the Kaurna ecological and cultural history.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro has an international track record with projects including The Broad in Los Angeles and The Shed and The High Line in New York, while Woods Bagot is responsible for the striking SAHMRI building and the Adelaide Convention Centre. Diller Scofidio + Renfro Partner Elizabeth Diller was recently listed in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, the only architect to be named on the 2018 list.

The two-stage competition commenced in 2017 and Expressions of Interest were received from 107 design teams, made up of over 525 firms across five continents. A shortlist of six teams was selected to proceed to the second stage to develop concept designs which are currently on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia.


The brief to design teams was to create a unique destination within Australia, physically and emotionally woven into the place and community, which showcases the treasures of South Australia’s internationally significant State Collection. Combining exhibition, research and education spaces with a public sculpture park and community meeting place, it will become a new place within the city, respectful of Adelaide’s rich heritage and diverse cultures but giving a powerful boost to its creative economy. In a world first, the Gallery of Time will curate South Australia’s exceptional collection of Aboriginal art and cultures in conversation with work from European and Asian cultures, enabling visitors to look at Australian art in a global context.


The project site occupies two hectares of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital campus, facing onto the city’s celebrated North Terrace and positioned within walking distance to the Art Gallery of South Australia, the South Australian Museum and the Adelaide Botanic Garden. Envisaged as part of the overall regeneration of the hospital site, this unique cultural institution will create a new city landmark that will strengthen North Terrace’s identity as Adelaide’s creative precinct and expand it eastwards.

Adelaide is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna people and the project site and its surroundings are rich in Kaurna heritage. This proposal is a once in a generation opportunity to tell the stories of Aboriginal Australia through the specific and local lens of the Kaurna people.


The six shortlisted teams vying to win the international design competition are:

Adjaye Associates and BVN with McGregor Coxall, Steensen Varming, Plan A Consultants, Barbara Flynn, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Aurecon Group and Front Inc

BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group and JPE Design Studio with United Natures, Arketype, BuildSurv, Virtual Built, Future Urban Group, Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien, Marijana Tadic, Erica Green, Peter Dungey, Brian Parkes and Lindy Lee

David Chipperfield Architects and SJB Architects with Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture and Arup Lighting

Diller Scofidio Renfro and Woods Bagot with Oculus, Pentagram, Right Angle Studio, Klynton Wanganeen, Dustin Yellin, Studio Adrien Gardère, Australian Dance Theatre, Deloitte, Ekistics and Katnich Dodd

HASSELL and SO-IL with Ali Cobby Eckermann, Arup, Australian Industrial Transformation Institute, Fabio Ongarato Design, Fiona Hall and Mosbach Paysagistes

Khai Liew, Office of Ryue Nishizawa and Durbach Block Jaggers with Masako Yamazaki, Mark Richardson, Arup, Irma Boom, Taylor Cullity Lethlean and URPS

Project Ambitions

This new national cultural destination aims to:
• Become a place for all South Australians, with a clear commitment to education and community programming reflected throughout the building.
• Integrate into a wider masterplan for the development of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital.
• Provide a porous space that could respond to major state events, festivals, and unique site- specific temporary installations.
• Be an important economic driver for tourism and business investment all year round, creating new jobs and inspiring spin-off business initiatives.
• Be respectful of Adelaide’s rich heritage and diverse cultures, including Kaurna traditions.
• Offer an opportunity for artists from South Australia and beyond to show their work in a new interactive, responsive environment, as part of an original curatorial narrative.

For further details on the competition visit

Image: Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot design

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