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Adelaide city centre across the River Torren

Blueprints of Beauty: Adelaide’s Architecture

Adelaide’s architecture flaunts grandeur, from the Beehive Corner’s intricate pattern to SAHMRI’s futuristic design. 

Want a sneak peek? Our article below offers a tour of the city’s architectural landscape and evolution. 

What are the architectural styles found in Adelaide? 

What are the architectural styles found in Adelaide

The architectural styles found in Adelaide include Victorian, Colonial, Edwardian, Gothic Revival, Art Deco, and Modernist.

Victorian architecture features wrought-iron details, ornate facades, and steep gabled roofs. This style is prevalent in North Adelaide and Unley’s terrace houses and mansions. 

Colonial architecture showcases simple, symmetrical designs, brick or stone construction, and spacious verandas. This design harks to Adelaide’s colonial past, and you can spot its influences in King William St, the CBD’s main road.

Edwardian architecture emerged during the early 20th century and incorporates Victorian and Federation architecture. It uses red brick facades, bay windows, and decorative timberwork, mainly found in Glendalough and North Adelaide’s manors.

Gothic Revival architecture can occasionally be seen in Adelaide’s religious buildings. This style, characterized by pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and intricate stone carvings, is exemplified in churches like St. Peter’s Cathedral.

Art Deco utilizes geometric patterns, bold lines, and decorative motifs reflecting the era’s fascination with modernity and elegance. Structures like the Capri Theater in Goodwood and Kelvin House in North Terrace present this style. 

Volume, asymmetrical arrangements, and a lack of excessive ornamentation take center stage in minimalist architecture. It also uses reinforced concrete, steel, and glass, as seen in structures like the Grenfell Center and Our Savior Lutheran Church.

Who are some renowned architects associated with Adelaide’s architecture?

Some renowned architects associated with Adelaide’s architecture include Edmund Wright, E.J. Woods, Walter Bagot, and Robin Boyd. 

Edmund Wright made significant contributions to the Colonial Revival style. His iconic works are the Adelaide Town Hall, Adelaide General Post Office, and the Parliament House. 

Adelaide celebrates E.J. Wood for his significant contributions to the city’s architectural landscape, particularly in the Gothic Revival style. His most notable works are the State Library of South Australia’s Mortlock Wing and St. Peter’s Cathedral. 

Walter Bagot, co-founder of Woods Bagot, who played a key role in shaping the city’s architecture in the early 20th century. His impressive portfolio includes the Bonython Hall, Barr Smith Library, and Waite Institute Building.

Robin Boyd, though not originally from Adelaide, made a noteworthy impact on the city’s architectural scene through his modernist designs. His best work is the Walkley House in North Adelaide. 

How does Adelaide’s climate influence its architectural design?

How does Adelaide's climate influence its architectural design

Adelaide’s Mediterranean climate significantly affects its architectural design. 

Past and present architects and builders take into account the city’s hot, dry summers and mild winters when creating functional and comfortable structures.

The hot, dry summers in Adelaide necessitate the use of architectural features that provide shade and ventilation. Many buildings in the city incorporate wide verandas, pergolas, awnings, and green walls to shield occupants from the intense sun.

How does Adelaide's climate influence its architectural design (2)

Adelaide’s mild winters result in lower heating needs compared to other parts of Australia. However, architects still consider insulation and the orientation of buildings to maximize passive solar heating during the cooler months. 

For instance, north-facing windows capture the winter sun, helping to warm interiors naturally. Meanwhile, double-glazed windows and thermal mass materials improve energy efficiency by keeping heat inside.

What are some examples of sustainable architecture in Adelaide?

SAHMRI Building

One notable example of sustainable architecture in Adelaide is the SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) building. 

Designed by Woods Bagot and finished in 2013, this iconic building has a unique “cheese grater” facade, which not only stands out visually but also enhances the building’s sustainability.

The facade incorporates thousands of triangular metal panels, which act as a sunshade to reduce heat gain during Adelaide’s hot summers. 

Adelaide Botanic High School

Another sustainable Adelaide building is the Adelaide Botanic High School, designed by Cox Architecture and completed in 2019. 

The building’s orientation and large windows optimize natural lighting while minimizing the need for artificial lighting during the day.

Sustainable Industries Education Center

Sustainable Industries Education Center

Moreover, the Sustainable Industries Education Centre (SIEC) at TAFE SA’s Regency Campus also highlights sustainable architecture principles. 

It incorporates various eco-friendly features like passive solar design, natural ventilation, and rainwater harvesting.

Adelaide’s Best Architectural Buildings  

Beehive Corner  

Address: Rundle Mall, Adelaide, SA 5000

Contact Details: (08) 8203 7200

Operating Hours: Daily – 24 hours 


Adelaide’s Beehive Corner, a true architectural marvel, sprung from the creative mind of design virtuoso George Soward. 

In 1895, at a time when Adelaide rarely featured intricate details like the markings on this structure’s corner turret, Soward captivated the city by infusing the building with the awe-inspiring elegance of Gothic Revival style.

One of the most distinctive features of Beehive Corner is its corner turret, which assumes the shape of a beehive. At its pinnacle, a solitary gilded bee perches.

The overall earthy color palette is warm and inviting. It also has detailed stone carvings and many arched windows with finely crafted frames.

Presently, the Beehive Corner hosts Haigh’s Chocolate, one of Australia’s most beloved chocolate companies.


  • Visit this spot if you’re a history or movie buff. Beehive Corner is the first building in Adelaide to show the cinematograph, an apparatus utilized for showing films back in the day. 

Additionally, Edmund Wright once rented a spot in this building. 

  • Beehive Corner is part of Rundle Mall, so visit during weekdays to avoid weekend crowds.

St Peter’s Cathedral  

Address: 27 King William Rd, North Adelaide, SA 5006

Contact Details: (08) 8267 4551

Operating Hours: 

  • Mon – 10:30 am to 1 pm
  • Tue to Fri – 10:30 am to 3:30 am
  • Sat – Closed
  • Sun – 8 to 9 am, 10:30 am to 12 pm, 6 pm to 7 pm


St. Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide is a towering masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture designed by the prominent architect E.J. Woods. 

The cathedral’s architectural style features pointed arches, detailed stone engravings, and soaring spires. It was mainly built using local bluestone because of the said material’s looks and structural strength.

Inside, the cathedral has exquisite stained glass windows, which create a breathtaking display of colors when sunlight filters through them. 

The lofty nave stretches before you. Slender, towering columns with delicate carvings support its vaulted ceilings.


  • Plan your visit to coincide with a service. Experiencing the cathedral during a religious service can provide a unique spiritual ambiance.
  • Consider taking a guided tour of the cathedral. Knowledgeable guides can share the history, architecture, and exciting stories behind the cathedral’s features.

Free tours are available on Wednesdays at 11 am.

  • Photographers need permission to take pics. Once allowed, be mindful of the service (if there’s an ongoing one) and other visitors. 

Disable your flash and keep your camera noise to a minimum to maintain a tranquil atmosphere.

  • Before your visit, check if there are any special events, choir concerts, or exhibitions at the cathedral. Attending one of these can enhance your experience.

The State Library of South Australia 

Address: North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000

Contact Details: (08) 8207 7250

Operating Hours: 

  • Mon – 10 am to 5 pm
  • Tue – 10 am to 7 pm
  • Wed to Fri – 10 am to 5 pm
  • Sat to Sun 12 pm to 5 pm


Architecturally speaking, it’s all about the Victorian era in the State Library of South Australia. Gothic arches, intricate stone carvings, and a majestic dome define the building’s exterior. 

And when you walk in, you’re greeted by a vast, ornate reading room that’s the stuff of book lovers’ dreams.

It’s a treasure trove of books, manuscripts, and historical documents. And if you’re a history buff or just a curious soul, you’ll find everything from ancient maps to modern-day publications here.

Its Mortlock Wing is part of the world’s 25 most beautiful libraries. Upon entering, you’ll encounter not two Victorian galleries. 

The first gallery is supported by sturdy masonry columns, while the second relies on strong cast iron brackets for its structural integrity.

The balconies stand out with delicately crafted wrought iron railings shining with hints of gold.

Above, a spectacular glass-domed lantern roof or clerestory serves as the crowning glory, generously bathing the chamber in natural light. 


  • View the map of the library for easy navigation. 
  • Wilson Adelaide Central Park at 225 North Terrace is the closest parking space.
  • Dine at the library cafe. It’s open weekdays, from 8 am to 4 pm. The cafe’s opening hours on Saturdays are 12 pm to 4 pm.

Bonython Hall  

 Address: The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5005

Contact Details: (08) 8207 7250

Operating Hours: 

  • Mon to Fri – 9 am to 5 pm
  • Sat to Sun – Closed


Bonython Hall was completed in 1936 and serves as the primary ceremonial hall for the University of Adelaide. Additionally, it’s a prestigious venue for various public events like forums and concerts.

Bonython Hall embodies a grand Gothic style, evoking the ambiance of old English universities. Its design highlights pointed arches, intricate stone carvings, and soaring vaulted ceilings—like Hogwarts’ Great Hall. 

The Gothic elements extend to the exterior, where prominent features like spires and buttresses contribute to its impressive Gothic aesthetic.


  • Take note of the decorative artwork, including the symbolic carvings and ornate designs that adorn the hall.
  • The most convenient parking spots near the hall are Kintore Ave and Victoria Drive. 
  • Check the University of Adelaide’s campus map for a hassle-free visit. 

Parliament House

Address: Parliament House, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000

Contact Details: (08) 8237 9100

Operating Hours: 

  • Mon to Fri – 8:30 am to 5 pm
  • Sat to Sun – Closed


Edmund Wright originally designed the neoclassical Parliament House, and Edward John Woods modified it later.

You can’t miss the grand columns that flank the entrance, inspired by the classical columns of ancient Greece and Rome. These marble columns have Corinthian capitals, creating a sense of timelessness and grandeur.

Symmetry is another hallmark of neoclassical architecture, and Parliament House doesn’t disappoint. The building’s facade is meticulously symmetrical, with evenly spaced windows and a central portico that exudes balance and order. 

The classical motifs, such as pediments and friezes adorned with decorative reliefs, further reinforce the neoclassical style.

Beyond its architectural features, the Parliament House is significant in South Australia’s history. It has been the stage for countless debates, discussions, and political decisions, like the declaration of the end of the Boer War in 1902 and WW1’s 1918 armistice. 


  • Join a guided tour to learn more about the Parliament House’s history, architecture, and even rumors. 
  • Visit Parliament House in the late afternoon for stunning sunset views; the golden hour makes it look even more majestic.


Address: North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000

Contact Details: (08) 8128 4000

Operating Hours: 

  • Mon to Fri – 9 am to 5 pm
  • Sat to Sun – Closed


SAHMRI, or the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, is no ordinary building. It’s a futuristic masterpiece designed by the folks at Woods Bagot. 

This seven-story wonder stands out with its diagrid facade with over 6,000 windows. This facade gave SAHMRI’s building its hilarious but accurate moniker, the cheesegrater.

SAHMRI’s mission is all about health research and environmental sustainability, and its cutting-edge design reflects that. 

It houses state-of-the-art laboratories and research facilities where scientists and researchers strive to make breakthroughs in healthcare and medicine.

Deep within SAHMRI’s basement lies a sturdy concrete bunker. This underground chamber hosts South Australia’s sole cyclotron, tirelessly churning out radiopharmaceuticals daily. 

The building also features an energy-efficient HVAC system that ensures a comfortable indoor environment with an ample air supply. 

It’s water-efficient design includes rainwater harvesting and water reuse, while an integrated building system offers energy and water consumption monitoring. 

The institute also promotes sustainability with minimized car parking, a focus on public transport, and landscaping designed to reduce the heat island effect. 


  • Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you’re curious about specific research projects or areas of focus. Staff and researchers are usually happy to share information.
  • Check if SAHMRI is hosting any public events, lectures, or exhibitions. They typically host gatherings weekly.

Adelaide Town Hall

Address: 128 King William St, Adelaide, SA 5000

Contact Details: (08) 8203 7590

Operating Hours: 

  • Mon to Fri – 8:30 am to 5 pm
  • Sat to Sun – Closed


Constructed in 1866, Adelaide Town Hall proudly boasts an external facade crafted from locally sourced South Australian materials, including Tea Tree Gully freestone and Dry Creek bluestone. 

Edmund Wright and Edward Woods designed this impressive Neoclassical structure. It embraces classical elements such as Roman and Greek columns.

Like Edmund Wright’s other creation, the Parliament House, the facade showcases intricate details like pediments and friezes. The main difference is the town hall’s frontage features a tower clock.

Noteworthy rooms include the Colonel Light Room, Council Chamber, and Queen Adelaide Room. 

The Colonel Light Room serves as the primary committee room for the Council, while the Council Chamber takes center stage for council meetings and formal special occasions. 

The Queen Adelaide Room hosts lord mayoral receptions and various events spearheaded by the City of Adelaide.


  • Check the Adelaide Town Hall’s upcoming events. These include art exhibits and musical acts.
  • Some of the Adelaide Town Hall’s sections, like the Banqueting Room and Auditorium, are open for event rental. 

Government House 

Address: Corner of King William Road, North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000

Contact Details: (08) 8203 9800

Operating Hours: 

  • Mon to Fri – 9 am to 5 pm
  • Sat to Sun – Closed


Adelaide’s Government House is where South Australia’s Governor resides and works. Its main highlight is its simple but elegant Regency architecture, a style prominent in the 19th century when this structure was built.

Facing east, Adelaide’s 5.6-hectare Government House boasts a bow-fronted design complemented by its characteristic shuttered windows. 

The building’s construction primarily features sandstone, contributing to its enduring and refined appearance, and a verandah supported by columns graces its entrance.

Visitors can spot the oldest Australian state government office inside. The interior is also full of opulent furnishings, classy furniture, and evocative artworks. 

The meticulously tended gardens of figs, roses, and palms surrounding the property also provide a serene environment and ideal location for leisurely walks and outdoor gatherings.


  • Learn the history of Adelaide’s Government House via guided tours
  • Spot the Golden Elm His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh planted in 1954. This historic planting took place when the late Queen Elizabeth II visited. 
  • Check the outdoor structures of this spot, including a statue of Queen Elizabeth II and an army sundial. 


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