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Revamp Update: Powerhouse Museum Ultimo Has Revealed Further Details About Its $500-Million Makeover

The renewed site will connect the Powerhouse Museum to the Goods Line, Darling Square and Ultimo.
By Ben Hansen
June 28, 2022
By Ben Hansen
June 28, 2022

Powerhouse Museum Ultimo is set to look a whole lot different thanks to $500-million makeover — and if you're wondering what that might entail, the venue has just unveiled a more extensive look at its proposed revamp. A development plan is currently on display via the NSW Government's website, outlining further details, in what proves the latest step in the venue's complicated recent history.

Back in 2015, Powerhouse Museum Ultimo was earmarked for closure, as part of a move to shift the entire facility to Parramatta. Then, when that idea didn't prove popular, the New South Wales Government committed to revamping and revitalising the existing site, allocating $480–500 million to the makeover. Another Powerhouse Museum location will still be established in Parramatta, and is under construction at the moment.

Back at Ultimo, its revamp plan is now on public exhibition until Thursday, July 21, revealing details about expanding the museum site, and also creating a comprehensive design outlet for local creatives.

A renewed focus on design and fashion is central to the multimillion-dollar overhaul, with plans to bring the Powerhouse's local and international exhibitions to the forefront of its event programming. Another aim: for the Ultimo site to also increase opportunities for creative development, via subsidised studios and workspaces for creatives.

Powerhouse Museum corner of Harris Street and William Henry Street, NSW Planning Portal

Alongside general refurbishments and cosmetic upgrades, the new-look Powerhouse Ultimo is expected to connect seamlessly with The Goods Line, Darling Square and UTS in a bid to contribute further to the nighttime economy.

While exact design proposals are still to come, the report pushes for a rejig of the building's orientation and public spaces at the museum in order to create entrances and courtyards flowing between the Powerhouse and surrounding infrastructure — such as the nearby light rail stop and The Goods Line.

The report shows plans to expand the museum site on Harris Street and Macarthur Street, increasing both indoor and outdoor space and allowing "the Museum program to spill outside and engage with the Goods Line and public realm of Ultimo and Haymarket beyond."

Powerhouse Ultimo, Jordan Munns

"We will create a vibrant public square beside the Goods Line, and creative industries workspaces that will become home for Australian designers," Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah said when the renewal was first announced.

Following this stage of planning, an architectural competition will be held to establish the final design of the museum, as well as the firm that will work on it.

As part of the renewal, a chunk of the Ultimo site's collection will also be relocated to Powerhouse Castle Hill in order to create space for the new design and fashion initiatives being planned for the renovated site.

Sydneysiders keen for more detailed information can look through the application on the NSW Government website, or head to one of the drop-in sessions that Powerhouse Ultimo is hosting. The sessions will take place on the afternoons of Thursday, July 7 and 14, plus the mornings of Saturday, July 9 and 16.

Powerhouse Museum Ultimo is located at 500 Harris St, Ultimo. For more information about the Powerhouse Ultimo renewal project, head to the museum's website.

Published on June 28, 2022 by Ben Hansen
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