Winning design revealed for Powerhouse Ultimo

The winning architectural design has been revealed for the Powerhouse Ultimo renewal after it was unanimously selected from a national design competition launched earlier this year.

The design team – comprising Architectus, Durbach Block Jaggers Architects, Tyrrell Studio, Youssofzay and Hart, Akira Isogawa, Yerrabingin, Finding Infinity and Arup – was selected from a shortlist of five finalists to deliver the $500-million transformation.

The design includes an improved urban domain on the 2.4-hectare site, expanded museum exhibition spaces, rooftop gardens and a multistorey annex along Harris Street. A new urban space will link the museum with the city by reorienting it to the elevated walkway The Goods Line, and connecting to adjacent precincts, creating a major public square to support outdoor programs.

The new Powerhouse Academy will provide a rooftop “camp” for secondary and tertiary students as an “immersive learning experience in the heart of the city,” arts minister Ben Franklin said.

Director First Nations at Powerhouse Emily McDaniel said the design is a “bold, defined approach to Country-centred design that is sensitive to the heritage of the site, and inspired by the memory of local sandstone escarpment.”

The competition jury included architect Wendy Lewin (chair), NSW government architect Abbie Galvin, Central District commissioner Peter Poulet, Walbanga and Wadi Wadi woman and film producer Alison Page, Create NSW chief executive Annette Pitman, and Powerhouse chief executive Lisa Havilah.

According to Havilah, iconic objects from the collection – including the Boulton and Watt steam engine, Locomotive No. 1 and the Catalina flying boat – will be presented in the renewed Powerhouse Ultimo.

Lewin said the jury was “confident” with its decision, which will deliver a “truly exceptional building” that ensures the longevity of the Powerhouse Museum for future generations.

The Powerhouse Ultimo renewal is part of the New South Wales government’s record investment in cultural infrastructure, and marks the first major investment in the museum since 1988. The design competition saw more than 100 registrations of interest received from across Australia.

Following the announcement, the architects will develop their concept plans. A detailed State Significant Development application is expected to go out for public submission in early 2023, with construction anticipated to begin in December 2023.

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