© SANAA Architects

The new Sydney Art Gallery of New South Wales proposal designed by Japanese Architects SANAA sits lightly on the land following the site’s contours to preserve the trees and existing landscape as much as possible.

The Art Gallery is wrapped in greenery and nature to strengthen its relationship with the Royal Botanical Garden and the Domain. The idea is to extend the Art and activities into the gardens, so the boundary between the garden and the gallery is blurred. The Gallery becomes a part of the Garden, and the Garden becomes a part of the Gallery.

The concept for the site is transition. The transition from man-made Botanic Gardens and Domain to the wild and natural sandstone escarpment of Woolloomooloo Bay….

The new wing of the Gallery sits lightly on the land to preserve the landscape and special atmosphere of the existing place. The new building is a low calm building that steps and shifts gently along the natural contours to form a plaza between the existing and new galleries.

– SANAA Architects
© SANAA Architects
© SANAA Architects
© SANAA Architects
© SANAA Architects
© SANAA Architects

An international competition jury unanimously selected SANAA following an Australian and international architectural design competition that commenced in September 2014.

The Sydney Modern Project design competition was a two-stage invitational process endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects.

Twelve renowned Australian and international architectural practices were invited to submit ideas to create an architecturally ambitious, intelligent, sensitive, sustainable, and highly functional design.

Stage 1 submissions were judged anonymously, and five finalists were selected to proceed to Stage 2 of the competition. The Jury selected SANAA based on a high-level concept developed during Stage 2 of the competition.

The Sydney Modern Project will create a global art museum for a global city with new and expanded spaces for art, live performance, and film, along with spaces to study and participate in cultural programs.

Through the creative collaboration between the Gallery and SANAA, the new building will enrich Sydney’s eastern cultural precinct, strengthening links with the local community and improving access between the Gallery, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House, the CBD, and Woolloomooloo.

The scheme responds to the beauty of the competition site through a series of pavilions that reach out to The Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens as they cascade down to Sydney Harbour and Woolloomooloo. The low profile of the pavilions complements and preserves both the integrity and importance of the existing Gallery building and creates spaces to bring people together and foster a sense of community, imagination, and openness.

Its lightness of form speaks to the new century while respecting the architecture of the previous centuries to create a harmonious and inspiring new public space for Sydney. The scheme is futurist in its thinking about art museums and the visitor experience and will be transformative for the Gallery.

The scheme elegantly places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at its heart. This is a 21st-century concept that has the full potential when developed to be an environmentally sensitive art museum. The scheme starts to deconstruct the classical art museum and offers an opportunity for further development of new types of spaces to display a variety of art forms, both existing and new.

The design offers what the architects describe as a clean palette’ for displaying art and staging cultural events. The scheme will invite artists to experiment and provide a curatorial challenge for the Gallery, which would profoundly invigorate an institution transforming itself into a 21st-century art museum.

The Jury made the following comments about SANAA’s proposal:

  • The concept with multiple floating pavilions and green roofs that contrasts with the existing building with the potential to deliver an original solution for the whole complex
  • The design relocates exhibition spaces from the existing building to link pavilions in the new building
  • Pavilions offer different orientations within the site and views and permeability through the site
  • Articulated response to sustainability principles
  • Considered response to planning considerations with minimal overshadowing
  • The potential diversity of exterior landscape spaces
  • Potential for green roofs to balance the loss of green space
  • Attention is paid to connectivity to the Royal Botanic Gardens

You can read the full report of the Jury here

© SANAA Architects
© SANAA Architects
© SANAA Architects

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