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Design a landmark for renewable energy

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Brooke Boland

Artists have an opportunity to contribute to the appreciation of alternative energies by creating an outback landmark.
Design a landmark for renewable energy

Home by Allan Giddy, The Olive Grove. Image supplied. 

The alternative energy industry evolving in Broken Hill is offering a $10,000 award to an artist, designers, sculptor or architect who designs a creative viewing platform that will overlook an outback solar plant.

AGL Energy Limited (AGL) and Broken Hill Art Exchange (BHAE) have partnered on the project to find the best design for the isolated site.

They are looking for a responsive site specific demand which:


  • Demonstrates excellence in design
  • Celebrates environmental practices, solar energy and innovation
  • Contributes to Broken Hill’s artistic and cultural heritage
  • Is practical and feasible for construction

View call out here

Four finalists will be selected with each receiving a $1,000 assistance package to help develop a presentation of their design to a jury panel, which will be held at a public event on Friday, 24 March 2017.

Apart from the value of the work, the unusual project has the additional incentive of enabling artists to contribute to public awareness of renewable energy sources in regional Australia.

Susan Thomas, Artistic Director of BHAE, said the award was open to everyone regardless of experience or art form background. You might already have landmarks in your name, or you could have an interest in renewable energy technologies and this is the first time you’ve designed something for a build.

‘I’m so pleased that it is such an open design. It can be for emerging artist and even young people under 18 and it is multi-disciplinary so it doesn’t matter if you are a highly experienced architect or an emerging artist,’ said Thomas.

Thomas said entries into the competition will be included in a ten day exhibition opening Friday 17 March with a chance to receive a $1000 people’s choice award. ‘It’s exciting to imagine the possibilities for innovative designs. Although creatives entering the competition should keep in mind the budget for the build, which is $350,000.’

‘You don’t have to have a very convoluted design as such. Simplicity is often the best, and so look for what is practical to be built at this spectacular site but also look at the natural landscape and the parallel between the heritage architectural landscape of the city and contemporary design.’

Mining heritage, cultural future

Broken Hill was named Australia’s first heritage city based on the legacy of mining. But now the city is looking to its future and the creative industries will play an increasingly important role in how this is envisioned, said Thomas.

‘What is so wonderful with AGL approaching us to manage this design competition is they’ve actually shown an initiative to contribute to Broken Hill’s cultural heritage.’

‘We already have an amazing heritage both in the range of artists and successful artists who have made their reputations here and also the number of international artists who actually visit broken hill to produce new works. This competition is extending that artistic heritage that we have,’ she said. 

BHAE is a not-for-profit organisation that dedicates itself to building the creative industries of the city of Broken Hill, extending the artistic heritage of the city in new and contemporary directions. It provides live-in residencies, exhibition and workshop spaces, consultancy services, events and project management.

The efforts of BHAE are the groundwork for a future Broken Hill Biennale of Art. 'The program of preludes are a stepping stone to that end,' said Thomas.

In 2016 BHAE ran four successful preludes, each lasting three months, on the themes of Solar, Earth, Water and Air. The preludes consist of a scheduled period of events and activities culminating in a public exhibition of works made in response to the prelude theme.

'The Broken Pack' by Hamish Dunlop at the olive Grove, Photo by Susan Thomas.

The concept of the preludes was born from a collaboration between BHAE and ERIA (Environmental Research Initiative for Art) in 2012 and is representative of partnerships and cooperative projects the organisation has been conducting since 2001.

With the goal of establishing a major arts festival in the far west NSW area, Thomas said BHAE is constantly looking for new ways to engage the community, particularly through concepts of sustainability, renewable energy creation, and industry innovation.

You can find more information about the AGL Viewing Platform Art and Design Competition here.

About the author

Brooke Boland is a Melbourne-based freelance writer.