Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta International Design Competition


Sydney launches international design competition for Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta

  • 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.

Notes to Editors

Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta International Design Competition

An open two-stage competition, the process for which is endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA), that welcomes both Australian and international design teams and actively encourages creative and intellectual collaborations between established and emerging talent.

The initiative’s centrepiece is the Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta, Western Sydney, Australia. The new museum is focused on excellence and innovation in the applied arts and sciences. The Powerhouse Precinct encompasses the museum, the public spaces around it and a pedestrian bridge over the Parramatta River.

Full details of the competition, including eligibility and how to enter, are available on the competition website.

Jury Chair and other Jurors

About Naomi Milgrom AO

Naomi Milgrom AO is an Australian business leader and philanthropist, internationally recognised for initiating and supporting cultural innovation and artistic excellence. With a focus on bold projects that engage communities and generate social, economic and environmental value, she is known for leading successful collaborations with government, business and not-for-profit partners.

Ms Milgrom has an acclaimed track record for bringing future-minded architecture and design to the community. She has collaborated with some of the world’s leading architects and urban thinkers through her MPavilion program, regarded as Australia’s principal architecture commission, and the Living Cities Forum, an annual gathering of leading global architects and design innovators. Through these initiatives, she has teamed with renowned architects such as Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten, Amanda Levete, Bijoy Jain, Ryue Nishizawa, Sean Godsell and Carme Pinós.

Numerous board positions and awards recognise Ms Milgrom’s achievements as a leader and contributor to civil society, including three Honorary Doctorates, the Australian Institute of Architects’ President’s Award, and in 2010 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia. She was the commissioner of the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale 2017.

About David Gianotten

David Gianotten is the Managing Partner – Architect of OMA globally, responsible for the overall organisational and financial management, business strategy, and growth of the company in all markets, in addition to his architectural portfolio.

David has overseen the design and construction of various projects including the Taipei Performing Arts Centre in Taipei, Taiwan; the Prince Plaza Building in Shenzhen, China; the KataOMA resort in Bali; the New Museum for Western Australia in Perth, Australia; the masterplan of Rotterdam’s Feyenoord City and the design of the new 63,000 seat Stadium Feijenoord in The Netherlands; and Amsterdam’s Bajes Kwartier, a conversion of a large 1960s prison complex into a truly sustainable neighborhood with 1,350 apartments, also in The Netherlands.

David led the design and realisation of the MPavilion 2017 in Melbourne, Australia and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange headquarters in Shenzhen, China and was also responsible for the end stages of the CCTV headquarters in Beijing, China. David’s work has been published worldwide and several of his projects have received international awards, including the 2017 Melbourne Design Awards and two CTBUH Awards in 2013.

About Wendy Lewin

Wendy Lewin is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects and currently heads her own architecture studio. Since graduating in architecture from the University of Sydney she has held leading positions in private practice and is the recipient of State, National and International awards for her built work and contribution to architecture, education and the profession.

Her projects include residential, mixed use, cultural and educational facilities. She contributes to the public discourse on architecture through her varied advisory and curatorial roles (national symposiums, and national and international exhibitions), was a Creative Director for the 2008 Australian exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale and a Curator of the 2018 ‘Australia Now’ architecture exhibition at the Mori Sky Gallery, Tokyo for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Wendy is committed to design education and has taught at various universities including the University of Sydney, UNSW and UTS for over 30 years, was a visiting Professor at Hong Kong University and has chaired and participated in numerous State, National and International architectural design competition juries. In August 2018 she was appointed a Commissioner of the NSW Independent Planning Commission.

About Lisa Havilah

Lisa Havilah commenced as Chief Executive of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) in January 2019. From 2012 to 2019, Lisa was the Director of Carriageworks. Under her leadership, Carriageworks experienced extraordinary audience, artistic and commercial growth, becoming the fastest growing cultural precinct in Australia. From 2005 to 2011, Lisa was the Director of Campbelltown Arts Centre, pioneering an internationally renowned contemporary arts program that brought together culturally and socially diverse communities, and from 1998 to 2004 was Assistant Director of Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

About Craig Limkin, Special Adviser to the Jury

Craig Limkin is an influential leader with over 15 years of experience in large scale organisations. With a demonstrated record of leading fiscal and capital complex transactions, Craig’s success is built on customer service, relationship management and staff development.

Craig is the Executive Director of Create Infrastructure, the Cultural Infrastructure Program Management Office of the NSW Government. Create Infrastructure is the first of its kind in the world and is dedicated to the planning and delivery of cultural infrastructure.

Craig is responsible for the Cultural Infrastructure Plan; Walsh Bay Arts Precinct; Sydney Opera House Stage One Renewal; Sydney Modern Project; Regional Cultural Fund; the Relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Western Sydney; Ultimo Creative Industries Precinct; Upgrade of the National Arts School; Parramatta Riverside Theatres upgrade and other projects.

About Malcolm Reading Consultants

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is a strategic consultancy that helps clients to imagine and define contemporary environments, both built and natural. MRC is the leading specialist in devising and managing design competitions internationally. MRC believes in the power of design to create new perceptions and act as an inspiration.

Recent work includes competitions for the Illuminated River Foundation (London); Kaunas M.K. Čiurlionis Concert Centre (Lithuania); the Cambridge to Oxford Connection (UK); the Royal College of Art (London); the V&A (London); the Mumbai City Museum (India); and new buildings for the UK’s New College, Oxford and Homerton College, Cambridge.

Malcolm Reading currently advises the Royal Household; the British Library; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art; Exeter College, Oxford; and Transport for London.