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Sydney to host contest for £500m museum

Parramatta skyline
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Malcolm Reading Consultants has been chosen to organise a competition for Sydney’s new £500 million Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS)

The London-based consultancy has been appointed by the government of New South Wales to hold an open international two-stage contest for the landmark development within the coastal city’s Parramatta suburb.

Planned to launch in December, the competition will select a team to create a new home for MAAS, which currently operates the Powerhouse Museum in centrally-located Ultimo and the historic Sydney Observatory.

New South Wales minister for the arts Don Harwin said: ‘Based at the geographic heart of Sydney, Parramatta’s new museum must be a cultural icon of worldwide significance with timeless appeal.

‘This international competition is the next step in fulfilling our promise to the community to deliver a state-of-the-art museum that provides an innovative and engaging space where families, industry and educational institutions can discover and learn.’

Competition director Malcolm Reading said: ‘We are delighted to be appointed to drive this open, two-stage competition. This is a hugely relevant initiative for New South Wales and, indeed, Australia.

‘The new museum will need to inspire new generations and communities, stimulate curiosity and creative expression, and make an emblematic place within Sydney and New South Wales, with tangible economic and practical benefits for the local population.’

He continued: ‘We will work closely with the Create NSW project team, who are overseeing the development of the new museum as well as keeping the local community informed on the competition’s progress through launch, shortlisting and the announcement of the winning team.’

Planned to complete in 2023, the latest project will create a new home for MAAS – incorporating both the Powerhouse Museum and Sydney Observatory – on a riverside site in Parramatta.

The scheme – which will see the existing Powerhouse Museum site sold for redevelopment – has, however, been criticised by a former trustee, who described the new site as ‘flood-prone.’

The winner of the MAAS contest is expected to be announced in the second half of next year.

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