A new landmark on Adelaide’s celebrated North Terrace boulevard, adjacent to the historic Adelaide Botanic Garden, Adelaide Contemporary will combine a contemporary art gallery with a public sculpture park and meeting place.
Adelaide is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna people and the project site and its surroundings are rich in Kaurna heritage.
The first stage of the competition for this AUS $250m project attracted 107 teams made up of circa 525 individual firms from five continents. The global call for interest was designed to encourage Australian as well as leading international practices – a condition of the competition was partnership with an Australian practice at stage two. The shortlist was hailed by the international media as a star-studded list, and the competition website received more than 300,000 page views from 153 countries.
The winning team’s concept design reconciled the brief for a dynamic, people-friendly, new place with a skilfully-organised gallery, while also incorporating a performance lab, a dramatic ‘Super Lobby’, floating top-floor sky galleries and a suspended rooftop garden. The garden, inspired by ‘Minkunthi’, the Kaurna word ‘to relax’, would display the planting of a pre-colonised South Australian landscape.
The building was described by the team in their presentation as a charismatic soft beacon on North Terrace that would reflect the sky by day and, at night, glow with galleries – allowing visitors to glimpse the art collection as they passed the building outside formal opening hours and, in this sense, ‘give the art back to the city’.