Stage 1: Competition jury findings

From the Sydney Modern Project Competition Jury Selection Report

Evaluation criteria

In determining its conclusions and recommendations, the competition jury noted all 12 selected competitors were capable of completing the design and demonstrated potential with their submissions. The jury assessed each Stage 1 submission against the following broad evaluation criteria included in the Stage 1 Competition Design Brief (CDB) (not listed in order of any priority):

  • conceptual architectural response to the Gallery’s vision and design brief
  • creative response to place, landscape and the cultural significance of the site
  • innovative response to all aspects of sustainability
  • broad functional and operational considerations of the Gallery’s vision
  • response to the planning framework and heritage considerations
  • cost and ‘build-ability’

Jury assessment process

The jury considered five shortlisted submissions (C/D/E/F/J) best met the above criteria. The jury noted that the Stage 1 CDB did not require a sufficient level of information to enable assessment of the innovative response to all aspects of sustainability and that this would be required in Stage 2.

The jury also considered the above shortlisted submissions reflected a diversity of approach all with the potential to meet the Stage 1 CDB purpose and aims.

The jury considered comments for each submission that could be provided as debrief for both shortlisted and non-shortlisted competitors.


The competition jury resolved that the architectural practices listed below be invited to participate in Stage 2 of the Sydney Modern Project competition.

  • Competitor C Kerry Hill Architects
  • Competitor D Kengo Kuma and Associates
  • Competitor E Sean Godsell Architects
  • Competitor F SANAA
  • Competitor J RMA Architects

Assessment overview of shortlisted submissions (listed alphabetically)

Kerry Hill Architects (submission C)

The jury made the following comments:

  • A well-articulated response to the Gallery’s overall vision that echoes the proportion of the Gallery’s Vernon wing
  • Design is complementary to the Gallery’s existing building with landscape well integrated
  • Design integrates the Cultural Plaza into the Gallery’s footprint and includes a series of diverse public spaces
  • Indigenous art gallery is a key element of the visitor’s initial experience of the building as well as diverse exhibition spaces
  • Diverse quality of internal spaces creates a clear sequence of gallery experiences that contribute to the functionality of the whole complex
  • Response to climate articulated through shading to the west
  • Multiple entry points from both Art Gallery Road and Lincoln Crescent
  • Woolloomooloo entry well resolved, offering an urban solution with an active façade

Kengo Kuma and Associates (submission D)

The jury made the following comments:

  • A potentially iconic design with a bold 21st-century form that links to the metaphor of a wave and the curve of the Harbour Bridge
  • Original approach responding to the challenges of the site topography
  • High visibility from multiple locations around the city
  • Layered entry from Art Gallery Road accessed under the Cultural Plaza
  • Articulated internal spatial planning
  • Detailed plans with thorough functional layout
  • Well considered public access to and from Woolloomooloo
  • Articulation of Cultural Plaza, located on two levels, well-considered and well-modulated

Sean Godsell Architects (submission E)

The jury made the following comments:

  • Conceptual idea offers potential for a well-developed architectural solution
  • Plans deliver a strong statement and reaches out to The Domain and the city
  • The plans have been spatially well-considered
  • Elements of the site are well-connected with respect to planning and heritage considerations
  • Circulation spaces and gallery relationships are clearly delivered on the plans and offer engaging spaces
  • Use of water on the western aspect brings another element to the design and an innovative response to climate considerations
  • The design is a logical approach responding to existing elements on the site.
  • Design conceptually links to the existing building

SANAA (submission F)

The jury made the following comments:

  • 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
  • Design relocates exhibition spaces from the existing building to linking 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
  • Potential diversity of exterior landscape spaces
  • Potential for green roofs to balance loss of green space
  • Attention paid to connectivity to the Royal Botanic Gardens

RMA Architects (submission J)

The jury made the following comments:

  • Design that respects the existing building and enhances its status as the Gallery’s primary building
  • Heritage considerations are respected and there is no confusion between the new building and existing building
  • Design creates a minimal architecture/built footprint
  • The planning framework has been considered and the design creates minimal overshadowing
  • The design is of a quiet scale but still successfully communicates the purpose of the building as an art museum
  • There is a creative response to place and landscape as the design drills into the earth, touching the ground to create a strong, enclosed ‘sense of place’
  • The profile of the site is well-maintained
  • A strongly defined new link to Woolloomooloo is created