Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta International Design Competition

Dianna Snape

Overview

The new Powerhouse Museum at Parramatta in Sydney’s newly-designated ‘Central River City’ will be a distinctive architectural statement and is intended to become a global landmark.

Situated in one of the fastest-growing and most diverse regions of Australia, the museum will be the centrepiece of a 24-hour arts and cultural precinct on the banks of the Parramatta River.

The new museum will showcase the internationally-significant MAAS collection, which is focused on excellence and innovation in applied arts and sciences. 

The Powerhouse Precinct, which includes 18,000 sqm of purpose-built exhibition spaces, public realm and a pedestrian bridge, represents a major investment by the New South Wales (NSW) Government, with the base construction budget set at AUD $400M.

The initiative is intended to remake Parramatta’s relationship with the river as well as generating jobs and economic opportunities, Parramatta being a key element of the Greater Sydney Commission’s plan – the Central River City in their proposed A Metropolis of Three Cities’.

The MAAS collection, named after the original nineteenth-century Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, is currently on display at the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo in Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD). Now, the move to Parramatta will enable the new museum to host Australia’s largest and most advanced planetarium with ultra-high-resolution 3D video and multi-channel immersive audio.

The new Powerhouse will deliver Australia’s first dedicated learning space devoted to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). And centre stage will be a selection of the collection’s over 500,000 objects, applied to tell stories, engage communities and encourage lifelong learning. A new curatorial strategy will focus on integrated and immersive programs that promote interaction and inspire and connect people of all ages and backgrounds.

This two-stage open competition – endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects – warmly welcomes both Australian and international teams of designers. It actively encourages creative and intellectual collaborations between established and emerging talent.

The competition seeks an outstanding, world-class team with exceptional skills in design and placemaking for this new cultural landmark.

At the first stage, competitors were asked to read the Search Statement, fill out the online form and upload documents detailing their company information, proposed team composition, relevant experience, and initial response to the brief. The first stage closed on Monday 18 March 2019.

At the second stage, at least five teams will be shortlisted, and these will receive an honorarium of AUD $150,000 for their design work when the competition concludes with the selection of the winner.