Competition to appoint Australian architecture team to design NGV Contemporary

The Victorian Government and the National Gallery of Victoria today launched a design competition to select an Australian architectural team to design the new purpose-built, twenty-first century gallery, NGV Contemporary.

Located at 77 Southbank Boulevard, Melbourne, the new gallery will be dedicated to showcasing contemporary art, design, fashion and architecture of local, national and international significance in the heart of a transformed Melbourne Arts Precinct. Once completed, the gallery will span 30 000-square-metres, making it the largest public gallery of contemporary art and design in Australia.

Building on the growth in audiences attending ground-breaking exhibitions and installations of contemporary art, design and architecture, NGV Contemporary will elevate Melbourne’s reputation as a thriving and dynamic destination for art, design and architecture in our region.

The NGV Contemporary Design Competition seeks visionary, sustainable and dynamic design approaches for a landmark building that celebrates the central role of art and design in contemporary life and culture. In an unprecedented move for a competition of this scale and civic profile, eligibility to enter the competition is open exclusively to Australian architectural teams, offering an unparalleled platform to showcase Australia’s world-leading design and architecture industries.

NGV Contemporary will connect to the Southbank neighbourhood and St Kilda Road through an expansive 18 000-square-metres of new elevated public gardens. In turn, the NGV Contemporary Design Competition presents an extraordinary city-changing opportunity to envision the ways in which NGV Contemporary will connect architecturally to the wider Melbourne Arts Precinct and unite Melbourne’s creative heart, joining north to south, and reimagining the very fabric of the city.

Registration for the NGV Contemporary Design Competition is now open for Australian Architects, Architectural Companies and Architectural Partnerships. Registration is a prerequisite to participating in the competition. Collaborative and multidisciplinary teams with a breadth of experience, knowledge and skills are strongly encouraged to apply.

Janet Whiting AM, President, Council of Trustees, National Gallery of Victoria, said: ‘This state-of-the-art gallery will be a major drawcard for millions of visitors from across Victoria, Australia and the world. The Australian designed and built NGV Contemporary will be a legacy-making Victorian architectural landmark that will become a must-see cultural destination on the itineraries of visitors to our city.”

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, National Gallery of Victoria and NGV Contemporary Design Competition Jury member, said: “NGV Contemporary will be a thriving hub for local, national and international design and architecture, presented alongside significant examples of contemporary art, fashion and performance. It is therefore only fitting that NGV Contemporary will be designed and built by an Australian design and architecture team. This design competition presents an unprecedented opportunity to create a building of architectural significance that will become part of the fabric of our state and cultural identity.”

Corbett Lyon, NGV Trustee and Chair, NGV Contemporary Design Competition Jury, said: “Australian architecture and design is of international repute and the work of its practitioners is celebrated worldwide. This competition will showcase the vibrancy and dynamism that fuels Australian design and architecture, as well as the ethos of collaboration that is ingrained into our practices and studios. Architecturally, NGV Contemporary will have an indelible impact on the shape of our city, and through this major competition will also have an equally important and long-lasting impact on our local design and architecture industry.”

Following the registration period, there will be an Expression of Interest followed by a two-stage design competition.

A high-profile jury of Australian and international architecture and design experts will assess competing designs and nominate the design teams that can deliver a global vision for NGV Contemporary. The Jury includes Corbett Lyon, NGV Trustee and Director, Lyons Architecture (Jury Chair), Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV and Jill Garner AM, Victorian Government Architect and Director, Garner Davis Architects. The full NGV Contemporary Design Competition Jury will be announced at the opening of the Expression of Interest.

The design for the new gallery must consider the function and flexibility required in order to display a diverse range of contemporary art and design; the visitor experience and how they will encounter the works on display as they navigate the building; and the gallery’s connection to the wider community, including the Melbourne Arts Precinct, the Southbank neighbourhood and the wider city.


In order to register you must be an Australian practising architect. Registration does not automatically qualify a registrant as eligible. To be eligible to participate in the NGV Contemporary Design Competition, competitor teams must meet all the below listed eligibility criteria.

A single architecture practice may fulfil all requirements, alternatively two or more practices may separately fulfil the requirements. The eligibility criteria will be assessed as part of the EoI process.

Design Lead

  • be a practising architect, architectural company or architectural partnership within Australia for no less than 10 years, and eligible to register as an architect in Victoria, Australia pursuant to the Architects Act 1991 (Vic); and has demonstrated public sector experience as project architect.

Anchor Practice

  • be a practising architect, architectural company or architectural partnership within Australia for no less than 10 years, and eligible to register as an architect in Victoria, Australia pursuant to the Architects Act 1991 (Vic); and
  • have no less than 30 staff (FTE) in Australia, and
  • have provided lead design services for the key phases of the project lifecycle on a project with a construction budget of no less than AUD $100 million.

Victorian Participation Requirement

  • a minimum of one of the competitor team members must have been a registered Victorian business for no less than 12 months; and
  • The successful design team will need to commit to running the principal NGV Contemporary project design studio in Melbourne.


  • The NGV Contemporary Design Competition incorporates a two-part Expression of Interest (EoI) and a two-part design competition. The EoI will focus on task appreciation, methodology, team, track record and risk compliance. The design competition will focus on design responses.
  • Registrants will be invited to form teams to participate in EoI Part A. Services sought at EoI Part A include architecture, interior design, urban design, and landscape architecture.
  • A target of 12 competitor teams will be longlisted to progress to EoI Part B, where competitor teams will be asked to demonstrate their capabilities in sustainability and engineering services disciplines.
  • At the completion of EoI Part B, a target of eight competitor teams will progress to first stage of the design competition. Competitor teams participating in the first stage of the design competition will present an initial design concept.
  • A target of up to four competitor teams will be selected to progress to the second stage of the design competition. Competitor teams participating in the second stage of the design competition will undertake to more fully develop their design concepts. A positive guidance workshop will be held midway through this stage.
  • At the completion of the second stage the jury will provide their advice for Victorian Government consideration with a successful design team and preferred design announced in summer 2021/22.

An honorarium is provided to all competitors selected to progress to Stages One and Two of the design competition.

The competition is delivered through Development Victoria and Competition Advisors, CityLab.

Registrations for the NGV Contemporary Design Competition are now open via the NGV website All enquiries regarding participation in the NGV Contemporary Design Competition should be submitted via the website.

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