After a seven-month international search, Arts South Australia and competition organizers Malcolm Reading Consultants have named New York–based Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and Australian firm Woods Bagot the winners of a design competition for a new arts facility in the South Australian capital of Adelaide. Situated at the edge of the Botanic Garden and near the Art Gallery of South Australia, the museum and its sculpture park will become a focal point for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the country.
DS+R and Woods Bagot’s scheme, which the designers call a “soft beacon” on the city’s North Terrace, follows the sloping grade of the site. By day, the structure will reflect the sky; at night, the galleries will glow from within, offering glimpses of the collection to passersby. The plan includes significant exhibition space as well as a performance lab, floating “sky galleries” on the top floor, and a suspended rooftop garden that recalls the area’s pre-colonial landscape.
Adelaide sits on the traditional lands of the Karuna people—a group of indigenous Australians native to the Adelaide Plains of South Australia—so the architects took care to acknowledge the location’s heritage and context. “It was an inspired insight by the winning team to conceive the building stepping down along the topography of the site and so creating a genuine connection to site and country,” says jury chair and Australian arts administrator Michael Lynch, who went on to call the design “respectful to the Kaurna people.”
The nine-person jury considered 107 teams representing some 525 individual firms from five continents. The DS+R/Woods Bagot beat out five other finalists, including Adjaye Associates, Bjarke Ingels Group, David Chipperfield Architects, SO-IL, and the office of Ryue Nishizawa.