Adelaide Convention Centre Redevelopment: East Building

Woods Bagot

Adelaide Convention Centre’s new East Building Plenary Hall marks the completion of a multi-million-dollar expansion to the Adelaide Convention Centre, and provides a distinctive, regional experience – dramatic, creative and authentic. Built over an operational rail yard and existing multi-level car park, the East Building is a new multi-purpose venue that includes a highly adaptable plenary, exhibition space and meeting facilities. The building is situated on a plaza at the city’s threshold with Adelaide’s postcard riverfront and parkland. It contributes to activating a previously under-developed portion of the waterfront.

The architecture of the East Building was inspired by unique South Australian geological features, in particular the Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island – a series of eroded granite boulders perched on a rock shelf that fronts the ocean. More than 10,000 individually hand-formed zinc tiles are rolled over the soft folds of the building’s exterior. Their soft red pigments reference the rocky outcrops of the regional landscape and will patina with age.

The distribution of entrances and pre-function areas and the openness of the signature spaces create activity around the building, animating the public spaces and making the building approachable. The building has been sculpted to take advantage of prominent views, which were ‘weathered’ into softer corners and voids that comprise windows and doors.

The new plenary hall is a modern facility that responds to the complex physical constraints of its context and incorporates numerous dynamic components that alter the internal spaces. Within minutes the facility can be transformed from one mode to another by activating any combination of a range of internal moving parts. Engineered and built in Australia, the centre’s two motorised rotating turntable auditoria are the first of their kind in the region. A significant portion of the tiered seating in the main hall is built on six hinged panels that can be raised to transform the theatre mode into a dramatic flat-floor exhibition space that accommodates 2,500 people.

The interior concept was derived from the jewel-like crystals found inside geode rocks of the outback. The sharply facetted and folded internal spaces reveal an inner form and tactile character in contrast to the smooth, weathered exterior. The facade system comprises accurately factory-cut insulated panels clad with soft zinc sheets. The shape of the building is pulled towards the views where the crystalline interior manifests as impressive folded glass walls. The complex geometry of this building demanded the application of BIM across design disciplines and construction contractors.

Photography: Trevor Mein and David Sievers