Adelaide Architecture: A walking tour

Part 3: New Royal Adelaide Hospital to the National Wine Centre

This is PART 3 of our Adelaide Architecture walking tour.

Leaving the New Royal Adelaide Hospital you can walk, take a free bike, or catch a tram to Government House. We’ll then explore the Museum, Art Gallery and State Library in the cultural precinct before heading through the University to admire the award-winning Braggs Building and on to the Botanic Gardens for some unusual glasshouses.


Government House South Australia

BUILT: 1840
LOCATION: Corner of North Terrace and King William St
ENTRY: Not open to the public.

Government House is the private residence of the Governor of South Australia and is not open to the public. Garden tours are conducted during open house twice a year, normally in November and March. But you can sneak a peek through the front gate on the corner of North Terrace and King William Street (without making a nuisance of yourself with the guards) on your way to the State Library of South Australia.  More Information.


State Library of South Australia

BUILT: 1884 – 2001.
LOCATION: North Terrace cultural precinct
ENTRY: Free daily
Mon – Wed: 10.00 am – 8.00 pm
Thu – Fri: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Sat – Sun: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm


  • The Mortlock Chamber is the original structure of the library (built in 1884) and is a perfect example of late Victorian architecture.
  • The spacious, light-filled Spence Wing was added in 2001.
  • The Circulating Library is a two level room of wall-to-wall books filled with old world charm. A metal staircase connects the two levels.

Besides the architectural beauty of the State Library of South Australia, there are many other reasons to visit. It holds the Don Bradman collection, a Treasures Wall of significant manuscripts and artifacts, and an historical exhibition where you can learn about the people and events that shaped the state.

Enquire about their free guided tours, or take a self-guided tour by downloading an app for your phone.

South Australian Museum

BUILT: 1861 with new wings being added in 1884, 1895, 1915 and the 1980s.
LOCATION: North Terrace cultural precinct
ENTRY: Free daily 10 – 5

The Art Gallery, State Library and Museum were initially all part of one Institute. Not until 1939 was the Museum given autonomy from the State Library and Art Gallery. It now occupies all the original buildings of the institute with the main building in front being the oldest.

In 1861 the Institute Building opened and housed the Museum, State Library, and Art Gallery. Photo: State Library of South Australia.

Art Gallery of South Australia

BUILT: 1900
LOCATION: North Terrace cultural precinct
ENTRY: Free daily 10 – 5

The Art Gallery of South Australia was established in 1881 and occupied two rooms of the State Library. The present building was opened in 1900 with extensions being added  1936, 1962 and 1996. This most recent addition created a contemporary display space without compromising the interior of the original Victorian building.

The Braggs Building, University of Adelaide

BUILT: 2013
LOCATION: Beside the Maths Lawns of the University of Adelaide
ENTRY: No entry to research facility. Explore the public areas

Next door to the Art Gallery of South Australia is the University. Wander through the grounds to the north end and beside the Maths Lawns you will see the newly constructed, award-winning Braggs Building.

The $100 million building was named after two of its greatest alumni, 1915 Nobel Laureates Sir William Henry Bragg and his son, Sir William Lawrence Bragg. They discovered the molecular structure of crystals using x-rays and their work continues to be used in medicine, chemistry, physics, mining and biology.

The Braggs building houses the University’s world-leading Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS). It was designed by BVN Architecture and Hames Sharley and was constructed by Baulderstone.

The Australian Institute of Architects said the building “symbolically represents its internal function through an external crystalline form that shimmers through its reflection and refraction of light throughout the day”.

Head east, cross Frome Road, and you will arrive at Adelaide’s beautiful Botanic Gardens which is home to 3 unusual glasshouses.

Adelaide Botanic Gardens Glasshouses

LOCATION: Adelaide Botanic Gardens
ENTRY: Admission to glasshouses is free daily 10 – 4, although the gardens are open until sunset.

The Bicentennial Conservatory

BUILT: 1988.

At 100 metres long, 47 metres wide and 27 metres high with two levels of walkways, this glistening curved conservatory  is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. You enter to a different world –  a humid rainforest ecosystem with lush vegetation and little beasties.

It was designed by South Australian architect, Guy Maron, and is an elegant structure despite its hefty size. Steel supports the fortified glass which forms the ceiling, walls and doors.

The building is an excellent example of Late Modern architecture, within the context of Australia. It’s curved form enables it to perform its many functions: to display tall plants; to shed condensation away from the tree canopy inside; to collect rainwater outside; and to keep temperatures consistent inside through the reflection of heat, especially throughout Adelaide’s scorching hot summers. More information.

The Amazon Waterlily Pavilion

BUILT: 2004

The pavilion is 80 per cent glass and was built to house the world’s largest waterlily. Glass had to perform the structural work normally done by concrete and steel. Some ground-breaking solutions were required to achieve this including triple laminated glass columns with a load bearing capacity of 2.5 tonnes and the customisation of every fitting. The glass is also self-cleaning to reduce maintenance costs.

The waterlily pavilion was a collaborative work between Aurecon and Flightpath Architects.  More information.


Amazon Water Lily Pavilion

The Palm House

BUILT: 1875.

The Palm House is an exquisite Victorian glasshouse imported from Bremen, Germany, in 1875. It’s one of a kind and houses plants from Madagascar.

Palm House, Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

 Part 4 

Head to the south-east corner of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and you will arrive at the National Wine Centre. Hopefully you’ve timed this part of the tour for wine o’clock. 🙂

More Information



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s