Adelaide Contemporary, Adelaide, Australia
The demolition of an old hospital gives way to the newly restored Adelaide Park Lands. Adelaide Contemporary is a cultural center that embraces the multifaceted identity of this site and its arts traditions.
In collaboration with Hassell Melbourne, our proposal goes beyond providing South Australia with a state-of-the-art exhibition facility. It anticipates, responds to, and evolves with the increasing importance and expanded presence of art in our public domain. The architecture frames the site as an event space rather than a static object sitting within it, and works with it to host both the formal and the informal; the everyday and the exceptional.
The building is lifted and light, inspired by the unique festivals Adelaide hosts. The structure offers multiple public amenities on its ground to enable its use as a main hosting site during city festivals. An expressive roof structure establishes a bold icon for the city.
The environment informs how art is perceived. The galleries are intentionally spread apart and interconnected with shifting views, surrounded by nature and the cosmic space that defines much in Aboriginal culture. Art can be seen and touched everywhere: in the public plaza, along the art walk, on the rooftop, in the sculpture garden.
Both in plan and in section, the architecture is porous and connected to its surroundings—from the earth to the street, the tree canopy, and the sky—forming an open circle with multiple orientations and perspectives. We took cues from the spatial intelligence of the Aboriginal people in considering circulation throughout the building and the site, offering new vistas at every turn, from the horizon in the distance to more close-up features of the native land. Patterns of the plaza and roofscape invoke the fluidity and beauty of Australian nature.