Skip to main content Skip to footer

Project design

The revised concept design scheme for the Powerhouse Museum Ultimo Revitalisation was developed by architects Durbach Block Jaggers partnering with Architectus, Tyrrell Studio and Youssofzay + Hart.  

The design concept for the revitalisation of the Powerhouse Museum Ultimo responds to community feedback. It includes:  

  • New and upgraded exhibition spaces to international museum standards to support the ongoing operation of the museum
  • Improving accessibility throughout the museum and precinct to meet current standards 
  • Retaining and revitalising the 1988 Wran building
  • Conserving and restoring the original heritage fabric of the Ultimo Power Station built in 1899 and the Turbine Hall from 1902, and further integrating the 1901 Post Office on Harris Street
  • Reorienting the museum’s main entrance to face The Goods Line, maximising use of this popular pedestrian link and improving access to public transport
  • Creating a major new landscaped public domain accessible from The Goods Line and Macarthur Street 
  • Providing a new café accessible from the forecourt and a new rooftop terrace
  • Creating a purpose-built space to support the Powerhouse Academy learning program
  • Activating the Harris Street frontage with industry spaces and recreational spaces to enhance the museum’s contribution to the streetscape and Ultimo community.

Site location 

The project is located within the site of the existing Powerhouse Museum Ultimo at 500 Harris Street, Ultimo.

The State Significant Development Application includes the Ultimo Power Station, Wran building, the former Post Office, Boiler House and Turbine Hall. The Harwood building is not included in this development and will be retained for museum use.

Project timeline and the planning process

The NSW Government is committed to completing the museum’s revitalisation in a timely way to minimise disruption to neighbours and allow the museum to reopen its doors to visitors.

Infrastructure NSW is leading the design and delivery of the project on behalf of the NSW Government, in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum.

The project requires a State Significant Development Application (SSDA) as its value exceeds $30 million. This means the application will be assessed by the NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) and will be determined by the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces.

The proposed timeline is subject to planning assessment and procurement processes.

Museum exhibition spaces

Exhibition spaces will be upgraded to an international standard to support the Powerhouse program, including accommodating exhibitions with improved environmental conditioning, visitor circulation and back-of-house operations.

The design organises existing internal spaces, including combining the two auditoria into one space that can function as both an auditorium and exhibition space through with retractable seating.  

In addition to exhibition spaces, there will be:  

  • Learning and community spaces

  • New public domain spaces for museum programming and community use

  • Industry spaces.  

This will lead to improved visitor amenity and increased access to the Powerhouse Collection.

Wran building

The 1988 Wran building will be retained and revitalised to create exhibition spaces to exhibit the Powerhouse Collection. Overhead mezzanine levels will be removed.  

Creative industries spaces will be incorporated into the front of the existing building to activate Harris Street. These spaces will integrate into the new built form on the corner of Harris and Macarthur Streets which will house program and exhibition spaces, a central courtyard and a loading dock.

Learning spaces and programs  

The Powerhouse Museum Ultimo will include new and upgraded learning spaces to support increased access for secondary and tertiary students. Programs will provide immersive learning experiences that enable pathways into industry and tertiary learning. This will include a purpose-built space for the Powerhouse Academy program.

A new library, research and archive space will be created for learning and community use.