Sydney Modern Project Update: October 2017

The Art Gallery of New South Wales expansion, the Sydney Modern Project, is approaching its next milestone with the planned lodgement of a State Significant Development Application. As part of this process, I would like to share with you the evolved design concept of the new building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architectural firm SANAA.

The Sydney Modern Project will create an architectural landmark that delivers significant cultural, environmental, social and economic dividends for Sydney, NSW and Australia.

Since May 2015, the Gallery together with SANAA has been evolving the design for the new building through consultation and engagement with a broad range of stakeholders, including the Gallery community, Project partners including the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Roads and Maritime Services, neighbours, Indigenous communities, regional partners, art and community groups, and visitors to the Gallery.

SANAA’s evolving design concept responds to the unique project site with a series of pavilions that cascade from Art Gallery Road towards Sydney Harbour and Woolloomooloo. The pavilions will sit low and lightly on the site, shifting gently along the natural topography of the land to preserve existing trees and sight lines. The subtle profile of the pavilions will also complement and preserve the dignity of the existing Gallery building, and together both buildings will create spaces to bring people together and foster a sense of community, imagination and openness.

The new building has evolved from the concept envisaged in the design competition, with one of the drivers being feedback provided to the Gallery over the past two years. The new building will now operate as a standalone building linked to the existing Gallery building via a two-acre public art garden, which will feature a covered outdoor entrance plaza as well as sculpture, installations and landscaping.

The new building will have a more compact footprint than envisaged in the design competition with significantly reduced built structure on the land bridge over the Cahill Expressway. The outdoor entrance plaza will be publicly accessible 24/7 and serve as a civic space for the city as well as a gathering place for Gallery visitors, including school groups, to orient themselves before entering the new or existing building.

A key principle of the Gallery’s expansion is maximising and enhancing public open space. SANAA’s design creates opportunities for visitors to experience an art museum in new ways including both unique indoor spaces, such as the adaptive re-use of disused WWII oil tanks, and new outdoor spaces such as the green roof terraces.

Consultation remains an important part of the expansion and transformation of the Gallery and we would like to continue to hear your views on the project, both in the lead-up to the submission of the Development Application and into the future.

There are a range of opportunities to learn more about the Gallery’s expansion, ask questions and provide feedback. All information is available on the Sydney Modern Project website.

There will be further opportunities for you to continue to be part of the conversation and provide feedback as the project progresses. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the future of an expanded and transformed Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Michael Brand
Director