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MAAS Powerhouse Ultimo design released

Alannah Maher, The visionary new museum design for Powerhouse Ultimo has been revealed, Timeout, 13 December 2022

This is what an injection of almost half a billion dollars looks like.

The Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo is set to undergo a $500 million transformation following the announcement of the winning architectural design for its renewal. The winning design promises to celebrate the best of the museum’s past, with innovative exhibition and educational spaces.

The concept has been designed by Australian team Architectus, Durbach Block Jaggers Architects, Tyrrell Studio, Youssofzay + Hart, Akira Isogawa, Yerrabingin, Finding Infinity and Arup. The team’s submission for the museum was unanimously selected by an expert jury following a national design competition, which commenced earlier this year.

The new Powerhouse Parramatta outpost is still going ahead as well. For those playing at home, the original plans to transplant the Powerhouse to Western Sydney entirely were scrapped around two years ago after much public outcry. The revamped Powerhouse Ultimo will focus on fashion and design, while Powerhouse Parramatta (which is currently under construction) will primarily focus on science and technology.

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The new design for Ultimo contains expanded museum exhibition spaces, including international museum-standard galleries for immersive exhibitions and learning programs. A new urban space connecting the museum to the Goods Line will create a major new public square for Sydney, increasing open public space that will support outdoor programs.

The Harris Street frontage will also be revitalised with creative studios that will support education and industry programs, and will create new opportunities to access to the museum’s library and archive.

Design director Camilla Block said the team is delighted to be selected, and looks forward to embarking on this career-defining project: “The new building casts a reimagined lens on the heritage fabrics and cityscapes from multiple levels of this escarpment – from uses, circulation, terraces and gardens. Respectful and immediate, the reimagined building lives alongside the Powerhouse core, a powerful embodiment of both geography and backdrop.”

The national design competition received more than 100 registrations of interest from across Australia. So when will the newly made-over museum be completed? A press release says that “timing for construction commencement and completion of the Ultimo renewal is subject to planning, design and procurement processes.”

In the meantime, the Powerhouse has plenty of exciting things going on, including the landmark Zampatti Powerhouse exhibition, a tribute to Sydney fashion icon Carla Zampatti; a nostalgic tribute to ’90s grunge music in Unpopular; and the upcoming Absolutely Queer program during Sydney WorldPride 2023.

With the box-fresh addition of the Art Gallery of NSW’s Sydney Modern expansion, dare we say the Harbour City is giving Melbourne a run for its money as the culture capital?

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