New South Wales government seeks firms for 24-hour ‘Powerhouse’

Architects are being sought to design a new museum for Sydney that would be Australia’s first dedicated learning space focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

Earmarked for a riverside site at Parramatta, the brief for the scheme includes a state-of-the art planetarium and 18,000sq m of exhibition and public space.

Client the New South Wales government said the Powerhouse Precinct would operate 24 hours a day and allow the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences “to embrace a new curatorial strategy of integrated and immersive programs”. MAAS’ current Powerhouse Museum in the inner-city suburb of Ultimo; Parramatta is around 10 miles further out of the city centre in western Sydney.

View along the Parramatta River towards the site from the west

Source: Parramatta Council

View along the Parramatta River towards the site from the west

New South Wales minister for the arts Don Harwin said the state wanted a major cultural institution with a global reach and design teams with both local and international architects that reflected its ambition.

“We are looking for the best designers from across NSW, Australia and internationally to create this new cultural landmark in Parramatta,” he said.

Competition organiser Malcolm Reading Consultants said the two-stage competition actively encouraged entries from both Australian and international design teams and “creative and intellectual collaborations between established and emerging talent”.

View across the Parramatta River towards the site

Source: MRC/Dianna Snape

View across the Parramatta River towards the site

It is a condition of entry that international teams partner with a registered Australian architect.

Interested teams are required to provide evidence of their ability to “deliver a buildable, memorable facility exemplifying design excellence” within the project budget of AUD $400m (£220m).

Alternatively they will need to demonstrate their capability as lead architect on project of similar complexity with a budget of at least AUD $200m (£110m).

The competition jury will be chaired by entrepreneur Naomi Milgrom - whose foundation commissions Melbourne’s annual MPavilion whose designers have included Amanda Levete - but will include OMA managing partner David Gianotten and Australian architect Wendy Lewin.

The deadline for expressions of interest is 11am GMT on 18 March. Malcolm Reading said at least five bid teams were expected to be shortlisted, each of which would attract an honorarium of AUD$150,000 (£82,000).