Pridham Hall represents a transformative strategic project for the University of South Australia, creating the new social heart of the City West campus, while the landscape connects it to the surrounding community and culture.
The brief for Pridham Hall called for a multi-use, accessible hall that can serve a wide range of functions from being a sports hub to an event space, to a day to day public space. The final product functions as a vibrant space where recreation, celebration and transformation are central to the design. During the design process, the interior and exterior were conceived as one social landscape, and the building façade reflects this integrated approach to landscape and architecture.
An extremely important aspect of the Pridham Hall project is its contextual design response, its integration with the surrounding urban landscape and its connection to the adjacent public spaces. From the beginning, the project was conceived as a completely accessible and public space, inviting interaction and revealing the vibrant cultural life of the University – always open for meaningful interaction with the City. The landscape welcomes the public, providing an accessible external public realm including an amphitheatre and green terraced areas for students, visitors and community alike.
The inclusive nature of the public interface invites participation and engenders a genuine sense of community ownership and engagement, making visible the vibrant cultural life of the University. An intentional gathering space, the western amphitheatre is integrated with the adjacent Høj Plaza and Jeffrey Smart Building, creating opportunities for outdoor cinema and events. The wings connect with the ground plane and draw the public realm upwards to envelop the building.
Building and landscape are one: the North-Western facade peels back to give priority to pedestrians and delivers an extension to the urban realm, while the adjacent roof folds to meet the street, creating two externally accessible terraces at the northern and western interfaces flanked with green wing gardens.
These four iconic green wings ground and connect the building to the public realm and landscape context. The project team designed an innovative wing structure in liaison with civil and structural engineers to support a functioning, living system with integrated irrigation, drainage, waterproofing and maintenance. The unique and ground-breaking application of bank stabilization and soil technology through use of a Geoweb stabilisation system allowed planting on unprecedented grades of up to 43 degrees in a shallow soil depth. The key to the success of the design was the collaborative approach of all disciplines. The engineers, architects and landscape architects worked as an integrated whole, and the result is an extraordinary public realm where there was very limited space or opportunity.
The planting palette was chosen to produce an exceptional year-round display of changing textures and colours that showcase species from Southern Australia, with emphasis on those from the Adelaide region. Seasonal flowering attracts native bird and butterfly species, enhancing local biodiversity and educating users through a dynamic experience. The wings put on a display of different colours – warm colours to the north and cool colours to the west. The resulting organic, lush mosaic of plants compliments the strong geometry of the architecture.
Although giving a sense of a relaxed planting style, the green wings required careful consideration of plant species selection and placement. The harsh conditions vary with the site’s microclimates, and suitable species selection was critical to the success of the project. The wings were divided into climatic zones – dry zone at the ridge top, wet and dry combination in the middle and a wet zone to the base – then each zone was allocated a mix of suitable species.
Opened in April 2018, the building and landscape have welcomed students and the public as a democratic place of celebration and renewal; a new public realm for Hindley Street and a benchmark for socially focussed development in the city. By transforming the on-campus student experience, Pridham Hall has become a civic landmark for the University, as well as the city.
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Snøhetta, Engineering: Aurecon, Planting System Input: Graeme Hopkins & Fytogreen
Project location: 211-213 Hindley Street, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Design year: 2014-2015
Year Built: 2015-2018
Photography Credit: Mark Syke, Kate Dekok