New Powerhouse Museum at Parramatta

On 28 April 2018, the NSW Government announced the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. A new Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta will feature the largest museum in NSW and be home to Australia’s largest planetarium.

Incorporating public spaces, a pedestrian bridge and the new museum, the Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta will further enrich the heart and soul of Parramatta. It will be a place to celebrate and drive cultural creativity, fuel collaboration and inspire new ideas.
The transformation and renewal of one of Australia’s oldest and most important cultural institutions will set an international benchmark in cultural precinct design that will carry the legacy of the museum forward. The Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta will be the sixth occasion that the museum has moved and transformed in response to the needs of a changing city.

The precinct is one of the largest cultural infrastructure projects underway in Australia and one of the first examples internationally where an institution has been central to reimagining and redefining a city.

The new Powerhouse museum will be the centrepiece of a 24-hour arts and cultural precinct on the banks of the Parramatta River and showcase the internationally-significant Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) collection.

With its focus on driving excellence and innovation in applied arts and sciences, the precinct will deliver significant economic benefit, outstanding opportunities for education and research, spaces for social and digital interaction and for exchange.
The new building will advance the museum’s mission to inspire, engage and educate the community through innovative arts, science and technology exhibitions. It will enable international research and programs in the arts and sciences to be conducted to benefit the community.

International Design Competition
In January 2019, an open, global search was launched for teams with exceptional skills in design and placemaking. Endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA), the open, two-stage competition welcomed Australian and international design teams and strongly encouraged creative and intellectual collaborations between established and emerging talent.The first stage of the competition attracted 74 submissions from 20 countries, made up of 529 individual firms from five continents.

Stage One of the competition closed on Monday 18 March 2019. Submissions received were reviewed and evaluated by a shortlisting panel, led by competition jury chair Naomi Milgrom AO. The Stage Two shortlisting panel consisted of six of seven jury members. All jurors will be involved in deciding the outcome of Stage Two of the competition.
Before meeting as a group, members of the shortlisting panel individually scored each submission against the previously published evaluation criteria. Submissions were evaluated again by the panel as a whole to achieve consensus in scoring evaluation criteria. Scores measured whether multidisciplinary teams had demonstrated the capability and approach to deliver a design meeting the project’s vision, brief, budget and timeline.

The evaluation process resulted in the six highest-scoring submissions being selected to compete in Stage Two of the international design competition.

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is the appointed independent expert organiser and professional adviser of the design competition.

Shortlisted Teams
The six finalist international-Australian and Australian teams in alphabetical order are:

1. AL_A (UK) and Architectus (Australia)
2. Bernardes Architecture (Brazil) and Scale Architecture (Australia)
3. BVN Architecture (Australia) and Carlo Ratti Associati (Italy)
4. CHROFI (Australia) with Reko Rennie (Australia)
5. Moreau Kusunoki (France) and Genton (Australia)
6. Steven Holl Architects (United States) and Conrad Gargett (Australia)

1. AL_A (UK) and Architectus (Australia)
AL_A is the award-winning architecture and design studio founded by the RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete CBE with Directors Ho-Yin Ng, Alice Dietsch and Maximiliano Arrocet.
Since its formation in 2009, AL_A has refined an intuitive and strategic approach to design. Collaborating with ambitious and visionary clients, we develop designs that are conceptualised as urban projects, not just buildings and projects, that express the identity of an institution, a city or a nation. Recently completed projects include the Victoria & Albert Museum Exhibition Road Quarter (2017) in London; the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, commissioned by EDP (2016); Central Embassy (2017), a 1.5million sq ft luxury shopping mall and hotel in Bangkok; and a 13-hectare media campus and a 37,700m2 headquarters building for Sky (2016) in London.

2. Bernardes Architecture (Brazil) and Scale Architecture (Australia)
Bernardes Architecture (Brazil) and Scale Architecture (Australia) have joined forces to design the new MAAS and Powerhouse Precinct as a truly powerful institution for social, cultural and economic empowerment. This partnership merges two architectural heritages that share more than latitudes and a hemisphere. Both Brazilian and Australian contemporary architectures are rooted in a unique type of modernity that encompasses careful adaptations to each country’s colonial and Indigenous cultures. To Bernardes and Scale, architecture is a driver for the invigoration of public life, citizenship, equity and identity. The partnership offers a portfolio that includes institutions that have been responsible for reactivating extensive city regions. From the Museum of Art of Rio, which became the gateway to the city’s redeveloped port region, to Brincante Institute, a music school whose building emerged as resistance against São Paulo’s gruesome real-estate speculation, both offices strive in designing for strong cultural institutions.

3. BVN Architecture (Australia) and Carlo Ratti Associati (Italy)
BVN and Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) are brought together by our shared interest in the impact of digital technologies on our cities, lives and the way buildings should be designed to shape our future.
BVN is an award-winning architecture studio based in Australia and New York, with a 95-year history of work built both within Australia and internationally. BVN as lead entity, has more than $7billion of public work currently in design and construction. They are leading some of Australia’s most innovative projects in prefabricated mass timber construction, robotics and digitised design processes. CRA is an international design and innovation practice based in Turin, Italy, with branches in New York and London. Led by Carlo Ratti, listed by Wired as one of the ‘50 people who will change the world’, his practice is currently involved in many projects across the globe, merging high-profile design with cutting-edge digital technologies.

4. CHROFI (Australia) with Reko Rennie (Australia)
CHROFI was founded in 2000 after winning the international competition for TKTS Times Square in New York. The practice is widely recognised for its design excellence and innovation, from fields as varied as planning, architecture, branding and urbanism. CHROFI is renowned for its urban strategy and typological invention. The practice always searches for the most pertinent questions in the quest to explore new possibilities.
For the Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta, CHROFI has partnered with Reko Rennie.
Reko Rennie is an interdisciplinary artist who explores his Aboriginal identity through contemporary media. Through his art, Rennie provokes discussion surrounding Indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments.

5. Moreau Kusunoki (France) and Genton (Australia)
A fresh architectural collaboration between Paris-based Moreau Kusunoki and Sydney locals Genton as the core creative team to forge the Powerhouse Precinct in Parramatta.
Culture and community are the core of delicate and clean design strategy. Moreau Kusunoki’s Franco-Japanese roots grant a diverse international design culture, complemented by Genton’s proven track record for successfully delivering complex projects locally. The team is both accomplished and dynamic, harnessing established experience and liberating emerging talent.
To realise the full potential of the new Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the team will challenge the conventional programme of the modern-day museum to create a place of collective memory, reflection and community. The collective vision is to instil a lasting memory through the creation of unique environmental experiences, existing in perfect harmony with the evolving social, cultural and physical landscape of the site.

6. Steven Holl Architects (United States) and Conrad Gargett (Australia)
Steven Holl Architects (SHA) is an award-winning architecture and urban design office based in New York and Beijing. Founded in 1977, the firm has extensive international experience in the arts, campus and educational facilities, and complex urban projects. With each project, the firm explores new ways to integrate an organising idea with the programmatic and functional essence of a building. Rather than imposing a style upon different sites and climates, the unique character of a program and site become the starting point for an architectural idea. Past cultural projects include the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Cité de l’Océan et du Surf, Herning of Contemporary Art Museum, and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. SHA has partnered with industry-leading, Sydney-based architectural firm Conrad Gargett to ensure a design that is both world-renowned and responsive to Parramatta’s unique character.


Timeline for Powerhouse Precinct at Parramatta