The new Whitehorse Performing Arts Centre is a hub for performing arts and culture in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
It replaces the previous centre on the same site.
It hosts performances, events and conferences, and welcomes local community and business groups, artists, school groups, performers and patrons. It caters for professional-standard artists as well as community ones.
BKK Architects have designed and delivered it in collaboration with Kerstin Thompson Architects. It features:
The spaces are hardworking and flexible: full of architectural and AV functionalities to make them configurable for multiple uses. They balance everyday community activities with special events.
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.
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 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 two performance venues (main theatre and studio theatre) share a foyer. The doors to the main theatre auditorium are either side of the rounded bar and cloaking area, which curves around the back of the main theatre auditorium.
This is the first completed element of our Whitehorse Performing Arts Centre. We love its elegant scalloped concrete details, which are tiny versions of the concave façades on the Arts Centre itself.