Daytime render of winning concept design for NGV Contemporary by Angelo Candalepas and Associates, and public green space, facing south.<br/>
Render by Darcstudio.<br/>
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Daytime render of winning concept design for NGV Contemporary by Angelo Candalepas and Associates, and public green space, facing south.
Media Release • 15 Mar 22

NGV Contemporary: once-in-a-generation cultural landmark to be designed by Angelo Candalepas and Associates

An awe-inspiring and timeless design by a multidisciplinary team led by Australian architect Angelo Candalepas and Associates was today revealed by the Victorian Government and the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) as the winning design for NGV Contemporary, Australia’s largest gallery dedicated to contemporary art and design.

Candalepas and their team of 20 leading architecture, design and engineering firms from around Victoria and Australia will create a powerful and sophisticated work of contemporary Australian architecture for the people of Victoria. This new 30,000 square metre Victorian landmark will celebrate the central role of art and design in contemporary life and features dramatic arched entries, a spherical hall spanning more than 40-metres-high and more than 13,000 square metres of display space for art and design, including exhibition galleries and an expansive rooftop terrace and sculpture garden with stunning vistas of Melbourne.

The arrival experience is focused around the visually arresting omphalos (the Ancient Greek word for the centre of the earth): a central spherical hall that soars more than 40 metres upwards through all levels of the building, connecting to a lantern in the sky. Monumental in scale, this colossal orientating hall will be an enveloping gallery for the display of large-scale artworks, and will also allow visitors to move through the building via a spiralling pathway. As visitors travel through this space, they will be offered an unforgettable architectural experience as they journey between the building’s levels, finally emerging on the spectacular rooftop terrace.

The design also features a number of exciting architectural spaces that will complement the exhibition galleries, including a large café directly connected to the expanded public parkland and a new NGV design store. Making the most of the building’s unique location, the scheme boasts a breath-taking public rooftop terrace and sculpture garden accessible from a rooftop, restaurant and members’ lounge. The rooftop offers expansive vistas of Melbourne’s CBD, parklands and the Yarra Ranges never-before-seen by the general public.

Befitting a purpose-built, twenty-first century gallery, the design features large format and highly flexible exhibition spaces with state-of-the-art display systems enabling the NGV to present significant works of contemporary art and design of unprecedented ambition and scale. The extent of exhibition space will allow the NGV to present international blockbuster exhibitions while simultaneously offering a dynamic program of thematic and focused presentations drawn from the NGV’s rapidly expanding permanent collection of Australian and international contemporary art and design. Offering a rich and all-encompassing cultural experience, the design also offers educational spaces, studios and laboratories for conservation of artwork.

With pathways through the building that connect the parklands to Southbank, NGV Contemporary will unify the surrounding Melbourne Arts Precinct by connecting together the wider neighbourhood and reshaping the urban experience of this important part of the city. In providing a unique architectural landmark for this complex triangular-shaped site, the winning design provides a generous and highly accessible building, with large arched public entries from the new public parkland, Southbank Boulevard and the corner of Kavanagh Street.

The building’s eastern façade incorporates a multi-level veranda, offering an external pathway between the building levels, as well as expansive views over the surrounding public gardens and Melbourne’s skyline.

The team led by Angelo Candalepas and Associates was selected following a nation-wide competition to find an Australian architectural team to design the new building. The winning design team for NGV Contemporary was selected by a jury of industry experts and professionals, including Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV; Jill Garner AM, Victorian Government Architect and Director, Garner Davis Architects; Francine Houben, Director of global architecture practice Mecanoo based in Delft; Corbett Lyon, NGV Emeritus Trustee and Director, Lyons Architecture (Jury Chair); Gerard Reinmuth, Director of TERROIR and Professor of Practice at UTS in Sydney; and Xu Tiantian, Director Founding Principal of DnA_Design and Architecture based in Beijing; and Special Advisor to the Jury Maree Clarke, a Yorta Yorta/Wamba Wamba/Mutti Mutti/Boonwurrung woman and an independent multi-disciplinary artist, designer and curator.

NGV Contemporary is the centrepiece of the Victorian Government’s $1.7 billion Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation. Located at 77 Southbank Boulevard, Melbourne, NGV Contemporary will strengthen the NGV’s reputation for promoting local and international art and design at its major pre-existing galleries – NGV International on St Kilda Road and The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square.

The winning design team comprises: Angelo Candalepas and Associates, ASPECT Studios, BoardGrove Architects, Richard Stampton Architects, Carr, Andy Fergus Design Strategy, Steensen Varming + Mott MacDonald, Taylor Thomson Whitting (TTW), Freeman Ryan Design and AX Interactive.

The Hon. Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria, said: ‘This state-of-the-art gallery will be a globally recognised cultural icon right here in Victoria and generate thousands of local jobs in design, construction and over its life.’

The Hon. Danny Pearson, Minister for Creative Industries, said: ‘NGV Contemporary will showcase Australian design excellence to the world and deliver a new and spectacular creative destination to Victoria, creating thousands of local jobs and becoming an iconic reference for our great city on a global stage.’

Janet Whiting AM, President, Council of Trustees, National Gallery of Victoria, said: ‘NGV Contemporary will be a new and iconic building for Melbourne. It will be a major drawcard for tourism in this country, bringing millions of culture-seekers to our city and stimulating our economy.’

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, National Gallery of Victoria and NGV Contemporary Design Competition Jury member, said: ‘This dynamic and exciting design for NGV Contemporary creates a unifying civic space that all visitors will remember. With its uplifting and generous architecture, this design provides all Victorians will a timeless building for arts and culture that will be loved for generations.

‘This ambitious project offers an extraordinary opportunity to support our country’s local design and architecture sector. I congratulate Angelo Candalepas and Associates for their outstanding contribution to this competition and for sharing their special vision for NGV Contemporary with the world.’

Corbett Lyon, Emeritus NGV Trustee and Chair, NGV Contemporary Design Competition Jury, said: ‘Visitors will enjoy an exceptional experience with gallery spaces that will host world-class exhibitions. The iconic new NGV Contemporary will welcome visitors from the Public Realm, Southbank Boulevard and Kavanagh Street, adding to the cultural and artistic hub that attracts visitors from across Australia and the world.’

Jill Garner AM, Victorian Government Architect and NGV Contemporary Design Competition Jury member, said: ‘Australian architecture and design is of great interest around the world – Angelo Candalepas and Associates’ NGV Contemporary will be an intriguing new landmark showcasing how architecture can respond to and enhance the cultural history and life of our city. This concept embeds a vision to harness and nurture a spirit of creative communication, collaboration and engagement’.

Angelo Candalepas, lead architect, said: ‘Melbourne is the cultural capital of this nation and NGV Contemporary marks its next great offering to the world. Art and design matters to all Australians: it speaks to who we are as a community. This project signals Australia as a great contemporary nation with a significant creative force. This building will be a beacon of the culture of our time.

‘I hope NGV Contemporary will personally and emotionally resonate with all members of our rich and diverse community and deepen their understanding of the possibilities of human creativity,’ said Candalepas.

The winning design team, led by Angelo Candalepas and Associates, is comprised of distinguished Australian architects and designers. The Landscape Architects, ASPECT Studios Melbourne, is led by Kirstin Bauer who brings the building design into its rare setting whilst offering enduring value to surrounding streets. The team includes interior design by Carr, a practice built on five decades of experience, led by one of the country’s most preeminent interior designers Sue Carr AM. The team is also well supported by emerging local architects. Richard Stampton Architects and BoardGrove Architects, assist the team with propositions and engagement in detailed thinking. Andy Fergus supports the team as an urban theorist and advisor to steer the project towards a generous urban offering. Finally, the team includes mentorship by AIA Gold Medalists Brit Andresen and Richard Johnson.

Architect Angelo Candalepas has received two Sulman Medals, four Aaron Bolot Awards, the Seidler Award, the Frederick Romberg Award, and around 40 state, national and international prizes. The work of the office is widely published in architectural journals worldwide and is the subject of two current monographs. Recent work includes the Castle Tower, the Punchbowl Mosque and a Church in Hurstville.


NGV Contemporary will be connected to the wider Melbourne Arts Precinct by an expansive 18,000 square metres of new public parkland designed by Hassell (AUS) and SO – IL (USA), with renowned horticulturalists James Hitchmough and Nigel Dunnett (UK).

Founded in 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is the most visited and oldest public art institution in Australia. The NGV is one of the top 20 most visited museum complexes in the world with more than 3 million visitors recorded in 2019. The organisation currently spans across two venues in the City of Melbourne – NGV International on St Kilda Road and The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Fed Square. NGV Contemporary, once completed, will from the third site for the organisation, enabling the NGV to present a dynamic schedule traversing contemporary, historic, national and international art and design.

Housing a vast treasury of more than 83,000 works, the NGV holds one of the most significant collections of art and design in the region and the largest in Australia. The NGV Collection spans thousands of years – from antiquity to the present day – and covers a wealth of ideas, disciplines and styles from Australia and around the world. The NGV holds one of the leading collections of Indigenous Australian art in the world.

NGV attendance has more than doubled its growth in recent years, with 1.57 million visitors in 2012 to about 3 million visitors per year in 2019. With more than 1.23 million visitors, the inaugural NGV Triennial, held in 2017, remains the NGV’s highest attended exhibition to date. Occurring every three years, the NGV Triennial is a large-scale exhibition of art, design and architecture, featuring the work of leading contemporary artists and designers from countries across the globe.

In late 2020, the Ian Potter Foundation pledged the single biggest grant in the foundation’s history – towards the build of NGV Contemporary, launching an ambitious and ongoing fundraising campaign for the new building.

The NGV Contemporary Design Competition was delivered through Development Victoria and Competition Advisors, CityLab.

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