With the South Australian government pumping in $1.85 billion over the next decade to build Australia’s most advanced hospital, the New Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), South Australian Premier Hon Jay Weatherill has announced that there will be a design competition for the existing RAH site.

Founded in 1840, the RAH is a significant Adelaide site and South Australia’s largest accredited teaching hospital. The competition will be led by the Office for Design and Architecture SA (ODASA) and involve extensive collaboration and consultation with the community and interested parties.

This move is welcomed by the Australian Institute of Architects’ South Australian Chapter, with SA Institute President Steve Grieve noting that the design-led engagement process will provide excellent opportunities for architects to partner with the community to create a lasting legacy.

“This is a great opportunity to raise the level of public awareness and debate about the important roles architecture and design play in the future of our city. I am pleased that the government is taking a measured and comprehensive approach to the future of this very important site.”

The Royal Adelaide Hospital. Image: www.adelaidenow.com

In addition to being an open competition, which allows for increased input into the precinct, key features of the brief include compulsory integration of the Greater Riverbank Precinct and the city in submitted designs as well as mandatory collaboration with local firms for stage two entrants.

The Property Council of Australia (SA Division) has also expressed its support for the competition and engagement process. Its executive director Nathan Paine says the site represents one of the greatest chances to strengthen the link between the city centre and the river, and is essential to the ongoing health of the city’s East End.

“Adelaide has seen some major changes to the city's excellent urban fabric in recent years, but connectivity between the city and the river remains an amazing opportunity. The RAH site represents an ideal opportunity to not only make this connection, but also to create a lynchpin site along the Greater Riverbank precinct.”

Former President of the Institute Shelley Penn will lead an independent judging panel to assess the initial design concepts submitted by registered architects and landscape architects from both Australia and overseas. The final selected design is expected to give the site a high-level economic use.

The RAH design competition is part of a broader public engagement strategy that continues the work of the IDC’s 5000+ design approach for inner Adelaide, which seeks to redesign and reinvigorate Adelaide through a collaborative, people-centred approach to problem solving and innovation.

The AIA, a strong advocate for the use of proper planning processes for major civic areas, will work closely with the competition administrators and government to ensure the employment of world’s best practice competition guidelines and appropriate master planning strategies for the site.

Following the design competition a master plan for the precinct will be developed by the state government, guided by the successful submissions.

To find out more about the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, visit the SA Health website.