Stories

Renewing Powerhouse Ultimo

Folding Landscapes
Design by Architectus, Durbach Block Jaggers Architects, Tyrrell Studio, Youssofzay + Hart, Akira Isogawa, Yerrabingin, Finding Infinity and Arup
How do you take these amazing buildings and just let them breathe again?
Neil Durbach, Durbach Block Jaggers Architects

Powerhouse Ultimo is set to undergo a transformation that will celebrate the best of its past with innovative museum exhibition and educational spaces, following the announcement of the winning architectural design for its renewal.

The Powerhouse is one of Australia’s oldest and most important cultural institutions. It is Australia’s only museum of applied arts and applied sciences with an exceptional collection of approximately 500,000 objects.

To achieve a world-class standard, the Powerhouse is undertaking significant renewal through the creation of Powerhouse Parramatta, expansion of Powerhouse Castle Hill, the digitisation of Powerhouse Collection, and the renewal of Powerhouse Ultimo.

The whole team is committed to really pushing the boundaries of sustainability. Our proposal produces more energy annually then it will consume.
Ruth Wilson, Architectus
A group of people stand and sit on a beige background. Some look at the camera while others look candidly at each other.
Standing left to right: Alex Gelego, Durbach Block Jaggers; Dr Stephen Long, Architectus; David Jaggers, Durbach Block Jaggers; Neil Durbach, Durbach Block Jaggers Luke Johnson, Architectus; Ross Harding, Finding Infinity; John Jeffrey, Architectus; Chris Mercer, Arup. Seated left to right: Ruth Wilson, Architectus; Christian Hampson, Yerrabingin; Akira Isogawa; Mark Tyrrell, Tyrrell Studio; Camilla Block, Durbach Block Jaggers; Anne Kristin Risnes, Durbach Block Jaggers; Belqis Youssofzay, Youssofzay + Hart. Photo by Hugh Stewart

Durbach Block Jaggers Architects are proven design innovators and authors of some of our country’s most remarkable buildings. Architectus brings the best experience and attitude together to design and deliver Australia’s most complex precincts and cultural projects. Tyrrell Studio guides an urban design and landscape architectural response informed by the precinct and by place. Emerging Sydney practice Youssofzay + Hart use their philosophy of creating equitable, accessible and enjoyable spaces for all. Renowned Australian fashion designer Akira Isogawa is our provocateur and collaborator. Yerrabingin is coach, advisor and collaborator, embedding our approach to Design With Country. Finding Infinity pushes the sustainability agenda to achieve world-leading results. Arup’s venues team provide specialist arts and culture design expertise and experience.

Object No. 89/248
A Black and white photographic print of the Powerhouse Museum turbine hall in 1960.

This design is an exemplar of adaptive heritage reuse which will deliver new and expanded spaces enabling the Powerhouse to present more exhibitions showcasing the museum’s significant collection, as well as more international exclusive exhibitions and programs that support the applied sciences, applied arts and creative industries.

Object No. 2015/70/1
Architectural model, Pyrmont peninsula
We see this as a folded landscape. The way you move through the building and public spaces is really a landscape experience attuned to that ancient quality of the land form of Sydney.
Mark Tyrrell, Tyrrell Studio
We see this as a folded landscape. The way you move through the building and public spaces is really a landscape experience attuned to that ancient quality of the land form of Sydney.
Mark Tyrrell, Tyrrell Studio
Powerhouse Ultimo renewal concept design. Image: Architectus, Durbach Block Jaggers Architects, Tyrrell Studio, Youssofzay + Hart, Akira Isogawa, Yerrabingin, Finding Infinity and Arup.

Campaign Supporters

A group of people pose for a photo standing in a line, they smile at the camera and each other. They are in a workshop space.

Foundation University Partner, the University of Technology SydneyExternal link icon, has committed $10 million to Powerhouse Ultimo, a significant investment that will help boldly reimagine the Ultimo precinct. The institutions will work together to foster a dynamic creative industry ecology and expand the international profile of Australian design and fashion both nationally and internationally.

UTS will become a supporting partner of the Powerhouse Ultimo Creative Industries Academy, which will house an immersive education and professional hub connecting local and regional students with industry leaders and work experience opportunities.

First Nations will be a key collaborative focus area, establishing joint programs with the future UTS Indigenous Residential CollegeExternal link icon and integrating the UTS Galuwa ExperienceExternal link icon (an existing program for Indigenous high school students) into broader First Nations programming at Powerhouse Ultimo.

Research will be another core focus, aiming to expand original research and industry development across the creative industries sector, made accessible via Powerhouse public programs. UTS research students will have opportunities to collaborate with Creative Industries ResidentsInternal link icon and use the resources of the Powerhouse ArchivesInternal link icon.

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Foundation University Partner

‘Leaning back’ to allow the full heritage facades to be seen, creating a continuous walkable sky-expanding gorge between old and new, from the Creative Courtyard to the Goods Line Terrace. The new building re-sees the heritage fabric and city beyond from multiple levels of this escarpment – from uses, circulation, terraces and gardens. Respectful and immediate, the new building lives alongside the Powerhouse core, a powerful embodiment of both geography and backdrop.

With a bold, defined approach to Country-centred design that is sensitive to the heritage of the site, and inspired by the memory of local sandstone escarpment, the winning scheme is in essence an Acknowledgement of Country in practice.
Emily McDaniel, Powerhouse Director, First Nations
Photographic render of the proposed renewal of the powerhouse depicting the outside of the building.
We’re in a very exciting time about how Country is starting to re-emerge, influence and nurture us. This is such a pivotal project to that.
Christian Hampson, Yerrabingin

Design Team

Architectus, Durbach Block Jaggers Architects, Tyrrell Studio, Youssofzay + Hart, Akira Isogawa, Yerrabingin, Finding Infinity and Arup

Durbach Block Jaggers Architects are proven design innovators and authors of some of our country’s most remarkable buildings. Architectus brings the best experience and attitude together to design and deliver Australia’s most complex precincts and cultural projects. Tyrrell Studio guides an urban design and landscape architectural response informed by the precinct and by place. Emerging Sydney practice Youssofzay + Hart use their philosophy of creating equitable, accessible and enjoyable spaces for all. Renowned Australian fashion designer Akira Isogawa is our provocateur and collaborator. Yerrabingin is coach, advisor and collaborator, embedding our approach to Design With Country. Finding Infinity pushes the sustainability agenda to achieve world-leading results. Arup’s venues team provide specialist arts and culture design expertise and experience.

This design is an exemplar of adaptive heritage reuse which will deliver new and expanded spaces enabling the Powerhouse to present more exhibitions showcasing the museum’s significant collection, as well as more international exclusive exhibitions and programs that support the applied sciences, applied arts and creative industries.

Design Team

Project Details

Project Overview Fact Sheet

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Design Fact Sheet

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Project Status

Design Team

Community

New work across the applied arts and sciences is developed through support and investment by Powerhouse. We foster innovation through facilitating collaboration and connection between industry and community.​

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Support

The renewal of the Powerhouse is enabled by the generosity and collaboration of our partners across government and the private sector.

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Philanthropy and Sponsorship

To learn more about our major giving program contact philanthropy@powerhouse.com.au