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Call for Expressions of Interest: Powerhouse Ultimo Design Competition

Black and white image of Ultimo Power Station 1911July 25, 2022


The call is out from the NSW Government for architectural design teams with bold ideas to shape the renewal of Powerhouse Ultimo and to make their mark on one of Sydney’s cultural icons.

Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin said the Expression of Interest phase was the next step towards the future Design Competition and part of the Government’s once in a generation investment into cultural infrastructure.

“We are looking for Australian design teams with bold, ambitious ideas to create a contemporary museum in the heart of Australia’s most international city. This is a visionary initiative, with a site that presents a unique design challenge to embrace the changing and vital urban context in a way that is sympathetic to its important heritage and history,” Mr Franklin said.

“I’m excited to officially launch the Expression of Interest phase of the Design Competition and encourage submissions from leading Australian architectural teams to transform the museum, ensuring it continues to serve the diverse communities of Sydney and New South Wales.

“This is a unique opportunity for an Australian design team to leave a lasting impression on our idyllic city and reinforce Sydney’s reputation as a global cultural destination.”

The renewal of Powerhouse Ultimo will deliver new and expanded spaces to present exhibitions showcasing the extraordinary Powerhouse collection, international exhibitions programs that support the creative industries and will feature dedicated fashion and design galleries.

The Expression of Interest process and future Design Competition will be managed by CityLab on behalf of Create NSW, Powerhouse, and Infrastructure NSW alongside a jury of architecture and cultural industry experts chaired by Wendy Lewin, Commissioner, NSW Independent Planning Commission and Principal, Wendy Lewin Architects.

The jury is also comprised of Abbie Galvin Government Architect, GANSW; Alison Page Associate Dean (Indigenous Leadership and Engagement), Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, University of Technology, Sydney; Annette Pitman Interim CEO, Create NSW; Billie Tsien Founding Partner, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects; Lisa Havilah Chief Executive, Powerhouse, and Peter Poulet Central District and Southern District Commissioner, Greater Sydney Commission and Professor of Practice, Western Sydney University School of Architecture.

The Expression of Interest submissions will be assessed by the jury with a shortlist moving through to the Design Competition, when detailed designs will be developed.

Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah said the renewal of the Ultimo Powerhouse would revolutionise the precinct and cement the Powerhouse as Australia’s leading museum of applied arts and sciences.

“The Powerhouse Ultimo Renewal will see the museum redefined. As we expand our infrastructure, renew and rethink how we experience the precinct, we are inviting Australian design teams to bring their own expansive concepts and ambitions, and collaborate with us to deliver this generationally important cultural project,” Ms Havilah said.

Powerhouse Chairman, Peter Collins AM QC said, “With our architectural and design teams we aspire to fold time, looking both forward and back into our history, ensuring continuity and creating a new foundation for future stories. This landmark project offers an extraordinary opportunity for Australia’s architectural community to shape our creative state for decades to come.”

Expressions of Interest open today, 25 July 2022 and close on 12pm AEST Friday 12 August 2022.

More information on the national Design Competition will be announced shortly.

Further information:


Ben Ingram | Office of the Hon Ben Franklin MLC | 0428 231 771

Georgia McKay | Powerhouse | 0466 223 293

Image: Ultimo Power Station, 1911 (Source: City of Sydney Archives, SRC14562)