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Frequently Asked Questions


Why is Council holding a competition?

The future of the Civic Centre site needs to be determined and the competition is designed to produce new ideas to guide what could happen on the site.

Why not continue to use the Civic Centre?

SafeWork NSW has placed two defect notifications on the Civic Centre building, and the cost to remedy the defects is not financially viable. Consequently Council will shortly relocate all staff in the building to another office building in Ryde.

What is happening to the Civic Hall?

 The Civic Hall, located next to the Civic Centre, has not been declared unsafe and it will continue to operate as a venue for hire for as long as it is safe, maintenance costs remain sustainable or it is replaced.


Where has Council gone?

 Only the administration functions in the Civic Centre and above Ryde Library (Level 1A) in Pope Street have moved to leased office space at 3 Richardson Place, North Ryde.

Customer Service and the Mayor’s suite will continue to operate from the Civic Centre until modifications are completed at the Ryde Planning and Business Centre and on Level 1A above Ryde Library.

Level 1A will be modified to accommodate a new Council Chamber, Mayor’s Office and a Committee Room. It will also house staff to support Customer Service, which will operate from the Planning and Business Centre space.

The “Civic” core of Council operations will remain in Top Ryde. 

Will Council come back to the site?

We cannot be certain of that at this time. However the Competition Design Brief is written with that objective in mind, but with a contingency that if that doesn’t happen the space required for Council will operate as commercial office space.

What are competitors being asked to provide for the site?

There are seven objectives:

  1. Civic and administrative functions of the City of Ryde
  2. Multi-functional indoor spaces for community and private hire
  3. Public open space for the community
  4. Commercial space to help pay for the community facilities
  5. New housing including key worker dwellings
  6. Improved pedestrian connectivity to surrounding precincts
  7. A bus interchange. 

The submitted design ideas will prove whether all the objectives can be met. Competitors may have other ideas too and we have suggested they may even wish to consider a theatre.


What will the community get out of this?

We want the site to be an exciting and interesting area that fully supports community needs, to improve the facilities for attending Council meetings, provide a new flat-floor auditorium to replace the Civic Hall, including a better stage with dressing rooms and rehearsal space, and offer a suite of large rooms for hire to community groups to replace the loss of the facility at the Argyle Centre.

Our hope is that the open spaces will provide opportunities for markets, exhibitions and performances.

Will local residents have a say about the competition?

In Stage 1 of the competition the general public was asked to identify their preferred design and the design finding most favour has been automatically shortlisted for Stage 2 of the competition.

During the exhibition of the detailed submissions in Stage 2 the community will be able to comment on all the shortlisted designs. That feedback will be passed to the Jury when it is deciding the winner of the competition.

Once the winner of the competition is announced in August the community will be asked to suggest a name for the site and the best site name will earn a prize.


What happens if the City of Ryde becomes part of a bigger Council? 

Irrespective of which Council will be responsible for its long term future, the potential of the site needs to be explored with the community’s help. The site deserves reconsideration and a great outcome from the competition to guide and guard its future.

When can I see the ideas competitors submit?

The public was able to view 175 submissions and express their preferences during Stage 1 of the competition exhibition between 14 April and 5 May, 2016. The shortlist consists of the design most favoured by the public and the three entries selected by the Jury, view the shortlisted entries here. The shortlisted entrants have been invited to provide more design details and the community will be able to comment upon them during the Stage 2 exhibition between 11 July and 1 August, 2016.


Will I know who the competitors are?

 The authors of the shortlisted entries from Stage 1 have been announced and when Stage 2 is complete and the winner decided by the Jury the successful competitor will be announced close to 8 August 2016 when the competition ends.


Why will people want to submit ideas for the site?

Architects and architectural students are always keen to explore new options and challenges. The competition seeks an iconic design and a solution which meets the highest sustainability ratings of Australia, UK and USA. These two factors present a challenging opportunity for any designer.

As with any architectural competition, there will be prizes. Entrants who are shortlisted will receive $50,000 to help them prepare the further detail we need and the winner gets a prize of $150,000


Who can enter the competition?

 The competition is restricted to registered practising architects or students who are enrolled in a recognised tertiary education architectural course.

The competition was notified to architects across Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, Europe and Asia and to universities in those areas that have architecture faculties.


How can I know the competition is fair?

The competition is being managed by JBA Urban Planning which is acting as the Competition Registrar and all procedures and decisions will be scrutinised by Probity Adviser, Procure Group Pty Ltd. Both these companies are independent of Council. Judging the submissions will be carried out by an independent Jury of three eminent professionals, all highly qualified and experienced in evaluating architectural and sustainable design. In addition, the competition documents have been reviewed and endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects to ensure the brief is understandable and the entrants will be treated fairly. 


Where can I see the competition details?

The Competition Design Brief and the Competition Conditions were available for viewing on Council’s DesignOurRyde website during Stage 1. Now that the shortlist has been finalised these two documents will be exhibited again when the more detailed Stage 2 entries are displayed between 11 July and 1 August.


Is there a fee to enter the competition?

No, entrants will not be charged a fee to submit their ideas.

How will the best designs be identified?

The independent Jury will use 7 criteria to assess each concept design:

  1. A place that enhances the civic and cultural qualities of Ryde
  2. Best practice sustainable design
  3. Improved connectivity to the surrounding area for all users
  4. A significant architectural and economically feasible concept that will complement the existing Top Ryde City shopping centre
  5. Excellent amenity for future workers and residents whilst protecting and respecting the amenity of existing neighbours
  6. Open and enclosed spaces that are welcoming and address the social needs of the community and employees on the site
  7. The functional requirements of the Brief.

How is this different to the last time Council tried to develop the site?

The previous scheme, the “Civic Precinct” project, was designed as a Request for Tender and developers were asked to submit proposals which enhanced Council’s assets. By its nature that project attracted only large development companies who could build enough profitable buildings on the site to provide the financial benefits Council was seeking.


Will the winning design be built?

This is an ideas competition to identify the best architectural and sustainable solution for the future. There is no commitment to build the winning concept:  that will be a decision for some time after the competition.


When will the completion be held?

 The competition opened on 11 January 2016 and will close on 8 August 2016 and the winner will be announced shortly afterwards.


How will the competition be structured?

It is in two parts during 2016, an open stage and an invited, shortlisted design stage:

Stage 1
Entries to be submitted: 11 January to 30 March
Public Exhibition: 14 April to 5 May

Stage 2
Entries to be submitted: 16 May to 27 June
Public Exhibition: 11 July to 1 August

Will very tall towers be proposed again?

 We cannot predict what ideas will be submitted. The difference between this competition and the previous (Civic Precinct) project is that we have invited concepts from architects, not developers, and only some of the innovative and creative schemes submitted included tall buildings. Some tall buildings have been proposed in the schemes that have been shortlisted, including the design preferred by the community. However, only when the further details have been provided during Stage 2 and the Jury has fully assessed the shortlisted designs will it be clear whether tall buildings will a feature of the winning design.

The existing Civic Hall has a ballroom floor, will this disappear?

On the contrary, the Design Brief asks the entrants to include a multifunctional flat-floor auditorium (ballroom flooring) with a good sized stage, wings, dressing and green rooms, rehearsal room and storage. In addition we have requested a number of community rooms and a large foyer area. The aim is to provide facilities that will be larger and easier to use than the venues of the current Civic Hall and the recently closed Argyle Centre Community Hall combined.


Last updated on 19 May 2016