How Do You Activate Adelaide?

Riverbank Precinct Registration of Interest 




The Adelaide Riverbank precinct has been a point of contention for the City for decades. After significant investment in the Don Dunstan years, the festival plaza and festival theatre remain largely under-utilised areas within the City. The State Government proposed a registration of interest to assess ideas for redeveloping the precinct. As part of a consortium bid, Tectvs presented their ideas on how to better activate the riverbank, and through that activate the entirety of Adelaide City. Whilst ultimately unsuccessful, we are heartened by Riverbank's recent revival as a destination and its ongoing developments, both cultural and physical.

Tectvs proposed that festival Square should be the vibrant heartbeat of the revitalisation of Riverbank and should serve as the gathering place for Adelaide that connects activity and culture. In essence it needs to be a symbolic identifier for the City of Adelaide itself. 

Tectvs proposed a new hotel and art gallery complex that activates the square behind Parliament house and the riverbank itself. Where its success will be built on the needs to interact with the revitalisation of the whole The Festival Centre and the Station Road gateway destination. 

Our entry was pitched as follows:

Volume Two: Riverbank, Festival Square

Successful urban places demand defined and active edges, amenity & most importantly, attractions. Apart from destinations, an everyday population is required, therefore appropriate usage and programmed events need to be staged to entice people to use the space during both day and night. The careful blending of commercial new age working spaces, smaller prized boutique workplaces, visitor & tourism accommodation, retail, restaurants and cultural attractions that compliment and build upon the patronage of the Festival Centre from the basis of our vision to bring a critical mass of activity and people to Festival Square. 

The existing buildings that frame the area, the Adelaide Railway Station Building (Casino), Parliament House and the more scale delicate Old Parliament House are all strong identifiable buildings, both historically and culturally, and should be respected as backdrops to the creation of any new urban space. A duality of design to be sublime in respect of heritage but a the same time create a new contributory building(s) that needs to present to a sculptural, modern and contemporary Festival Square within the context of the existing sculptural forms of the Festival Centre Buildings presents an interesting challenge.

Accordingly we believe any design concept for Festival square requires an adoption of the following Design Principles:

  • Identity: a sculptural building that identifies itself as destination
  • Form: organic and sculptural
  • Transparency: to not lose the presence and stature of the historic buildings
  • Levitation: any building needs to float off the plaza rather than found themselves on to it 
  • Compliment: rather than compete with adjoining buildings, in particular to the strong sculptural forms of the Festival Centre
  • Storytelling: recognition of Storytelling as identified in the Master Plan 
  • Contribute: compliment the proposed the Water Threads design element nominated in the draft Master Plan
  • Night: illumination of buildings and a sculptural catenary that is able to reflect a seasonal, festive or programmed identity
  • Connect: Present connectivity to the below plaza level

We believe in the desire to create a unique South Australian design contribution that symbolises an inspiring identity

In essence, the proposal was to deliver 4 scalable buildings that build upon the strategic use principles identified for the destination, from commercial offices, boutique hotel and office suites, and a cultural gallery that identifies its precinct; it's place-maker. Pedestrian focused ground level spaces offer retail destinations integrated with restaurants and cafes. 

A Festival Square Visitor Centre was envisaged behind Parliament House that is an interactive hub that orientates and informs. An integral role of the design of the Visitor Centre is to realise the beginning of the water threads that are envisaged under the draft Master Plan. 

Initial sketch designs show the form generation take shape 

Initial sketch designs show the form generation take shape 

A new hotel and art complex aim to activate the plaza behind Parliament house

A new hotel and art complex aim to activate the plaza behind Parliament house