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 has been 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.

“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,” said The Hon. Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria.

“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,” said Janet Whiting AM, President, Council of Trustees, National Gallery of Victoria.

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.

“This dynamic and exciting design for NGV Contemporary creates a unifying civic space that all visitors will remember,” said Tony Ellwood AM, Director, National Gallery of Victoria and NGV Contemporary Design Competition Jury member.

“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,” said Mr Ellwood.

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 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. “Melbourne is the cultural capital of this nation and NGV Contemporary marks its next great offering to the world,” said Angelo Candalepas, lead architect.

“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.

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.

“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,” said The Hon. Danny Pearson, Minister for Creative Industries.

For more information about NGV Contemporary, visit: for details.

Image: Daytime render of winning concept design for NGV Contemporary by Angelo Candalepas and Associates, and public green space, facing south – render by Darcstudio