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525 practices in 107 teams enter Adelaide gallery contest

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A total of 107 teams have entered the Art Gallery of South Australia’s international contest for a landmark £150 million contemporary art gallery in Adelaide

Representing more than 525 individual firms, the applicants hail from five continents with the majority of more than a third based in Australia. Less than a tenth of entries came from the United Kingdom while more than a fifth were US based.

The two-stage contest, organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants, will select a team for the Adelaide Contemporary, a 15,000m2 offshoot of the city’s world-famous Art Gallery of South Australia.

The estimated £150 million project will create a landmark destination for contemporary art on the city’s North Terrace boulevard, close to the parent gallery and botanic gardens. An outdoor sculpture park and a Gallery of Time exploring Aboriginal, European and Asian art and culture will also be included.

Malcolm Reading, competition director, said: ‘We are delighted by the response to the competition – it demonstrates the faith shown in the process and this inspirational project.

‘Arts South Australia’s aim is to identify an outstanding team for what will be a unique art destination within Australia. We appreciate the interest shown by architects both within Australia and across the world – this is literally a world of choices – and for the selection panel choosing the shortlist will be both daunting and very exciting.’

He continued: ‘The quality of teams, of talent, is exceptionally high and includes Pritzker laureates – architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize – as well as Australian Institute of Architects’ Gold Medallists. But ultimately, teams will be selected on the quality of their submission, their intellectual and aesthetic connection to the project.

‘It is heartening to see Australian architects embracing the two-stage competition process. This is widely welcomed by the architecture profession in Europe and North America and compliant with international procurement standards, but it is less familiar in Australia.’

Reading described the two-stage approach as ‘an open process, which treats all competitors equally and avoids the waste of a one-stage design contest’, adding that it also met South Australian major projects procurement requirements.

The high number of applicants comes despite the Australian Institute of Architects’ refusal to officially endorse the competition due to concerns over the anonymity of first-round bidders.

In a statement, the institute’s chief executive Jennifer Cunich said: ‘Malcolm Reading Consultants are continuing to work with the Institute and ArtsSA to determine whether the current competition conditions can be revised to achieve endorsement.’

The new building will be constructed on the site of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital, which is on the traditional lands of the region’s indigenous Kaurna people.

The surrounding area is considered rich in Kaurna heritage, and the competition brief encourages the participation of local producers, entrepreneurs and businesses.

Six shortlisted teams will be announced in mid-December and invited to develop concept designs following the initial open call for expressions of interest which closed last week.

Stage-two bidders will each receive AU£90,000 (£54,000) and will need to include an Australian-registered architect in their teams. The jury will be chaired by Australian arts supremo Michael Lynch and an overall winner will be announced in mid-June.


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