Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney Modern building
Art Gallery of NSW
@ Iwan Baan
Sydney Modern has transformed the Art Gallery of NSW into a global art museum for a global city – a vital destination with new and expanded spaces for art, performance and film along with places for people to learn and participate in cultural programs.
Architectus played a key role in the Art Gallery of NSW Expansion – Sydney Modern Project as Executive Architect in support of Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architectural and design firm SANAA. SANAA was awarded the project following a two-stage invitational design competition. Our practice also led urban planning on Sydney Modern, working with the Gallery to secure approval of the State Significant Development Application.
Landmark new Sydney Modern building
Designed by SANAA, the new building creates expansive indoor and outdoor spaces and significantly increases the Gallery’s capacity to share art with the many audiences it serves.
A new plaza connects the expanded Gallery with the Royal Botanic Gardens, establishing a place to experience and engage with art, live performance and other events within landscaped outdoor spaces.
Art collection display
- The Gallery now has more than double the space for showcasing its collection to the public.
- It also creates a prominent new destination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, with a larger dedicated space to showcase the Gallery’s internationally renowned collection.
- The new building features different types of spaces for new ways of thinking and new forms of art. These include the Tank, an adaptive re-use of a former Second World War fuel bunker; a column-free gallery for contemporary art; and a gallery for time-based art.
The project provides a second, larger state-of-the art gallery to attract a greater number of major national and international exhibitions to Sydney.
The gallery’s new learning venues include creative and learning studios with greater digital capabilities for online engagement with regional communities and other off-site audiences.
In addition to new dining options, there are new spaces for events and conference facilities for Gallery and commercial purposes – all with expansive views of Sydney Harbour and the Domain.
A sustainable art museum
The project incorporates the latest building and operational technology so the Gallery can achieve the maximum possible environmental and economic sustainability.
The concept responds to the extraordinary beauty of the site, with a series of pavilions reaching out to the Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens as they cascade towards Sydney Harbour and Woolloomooloo.
The subtle profile of the pavilions complements and preserves the dignity of the existing Gallery building, while creating new spaces that foster a sense of community, imagination and openness.
The project site
The Sydney Modern project gives new life to an under-utilised site north of the existing Art Gallery of NSW.
Two grassed concrete platforms – one over the Cahill Expressway and the other over disused World War II oil tanks – help revitalise the city’s eastern cultural precinct.
By building to the north, the project preserves one of the two 19th-century facades, protects heritage trees, and retains the Domain’s much-used playing fields.
National Architecture Awards, National Award (Public), 2023
Master Builders Association of NSW, Excellence in Construction & Safety Awards, Construction (Commercial), Public Buildings $200m-$300, 2023
Australian Institute of Architects (NSW) Awards,
The Sulman Medal for Public Architecture, 2023
Australian Interior Design Awards, Public Design, 2023
Australian Interior Design Awards,
Best of State Commercial Design (NSW), 2023
Concrete Institute of Australia,
Award for Excellence NSW, 2023
Master Builders Association of New South Wales Excellence in Construction Awards 2023,
Public Buildings $200m-$300m