City of Whitehorse with Kerstin Thompson Architects

"We're creating a cultural centrepiece in a civic context."
Simon
1/9
Whitehorse Performing Arts Centre

Whitehorse Performing Arts Centre

Creating a cultural centerpiece in a civic context

The new Whitehorse Performing Arts Centre will be a hub for performing arts and culture in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. It replaces the previous centre on the same site.

It will host performances, events and conferences, and be a home for local community and business groups, artists, school groups, performers and patrons. It will cater for professional-standard artists as well as community ones.

BKK Architects are designing and delivering it in collaboration with Kerstin Thompson Architects.

It features:

  • 626-seat proscenium arch theatre with orchestra pit and full fly tower
  • 200-seat black-box studio theatre opening onto outdoor soundshell stage and lawn
  • multipurpose rehearsal/dance studios for local dance schools
  • function/conference centre seating 300, divisible into three 100-seat venues
  • state-of-the-art back-of-house facilities of a technical standard to accommodate professional performers
  • foyers
  • double-deck carpark

The spaces are hardworking and flexible: full of architectural and AV functionalities to make them configurable for multiple uses. They will balance everyday community activities with special events.

ARCHITECTURE

The Whitehorse Performing Arts Centre is on a generous council-owned site. The building is surrounded by suburban parkland with plenty of mature trees, which is both an opportunity and a sensitivity for the project.

There’s a residential area to the immediate north and north west, carpark and sporting fields to the east, Whitehorse Road and the council buildings to south, and parkland to the west and south west. The building needs to face and respect all these influences, which means none of its façades can be its back.

Therefore, we have designed it in the round with five separate façades, one straight and four with unique concave curves. Each curve embraces an area of landscape, extends the façade length and views, and creates interesting-shaped spaces, both inside and out.

PERFORMANCE SPACES

The Centre’s main venue, the 626-seat theatre, is for dance, musical theatre and other non-acoustic performances. The stage has a proscenium arch below a full fly tower and there’s an orchestra pit and raked seating. The pit floor can be raised to stalls level when it’s not in use to provide extra space for auditorium seating.

The second venue is the studio theatre. Originally, the client had envisioned a black-box theatre and separate outdoor stage, but we’ve combined them into this super-flexible hybrid venue.

The black box is for rehearsals, small performances, movie screenings, or cocktail parties. With its massive doors open, it becomes an outdoor stage facing the amphitheatre and lawn. It will be used for outdoor concerts, community Christmas carols and other local events.

THE FUNCTION SPACE

The first-floor function room has long views over the expansive lawn. It seats 300 but can be divided into three smaller spaces with acoustically treated operable walls in between.

There is generous AV equipment is positioned so that three functions – conferences, presentations, weddings etc. – could take place simultaneously.

The project is currently under construction and will open in mid 2023.

Soren Luckins, Creative Director at Buro North on collaboration

“We are fortunate to have been working with BKK on a range of projects for over a decade.

The team’s unique approach to collaboration, creative rigor and robust design practice has positioned them as one of the nation’s most exciting practices.

Their ability to deliver crafted design outcomes on the smallest project through to city defining infrastructure is testament to the care and vision they bring to projects.”

For

City of Whitehorse

With

Kerstin Thompson Architects & Schuler Shook

Sector

Public, Cultural & Commercial

Status

In Progress

Year

2019 – 2023

Location

Nunawading, Victoria, Australia

Country

Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation