In designing Western Sydney’s new theatre for the arts, we teamed up with the team from Cox Architecture to make our dreams a reality. With a stunning portfolio of work to their name such as the Dubai Sentinels, Channel 9 Headquarters, Melbourne Square, the Jakarta International Velodrome and the National Maritime Museum of China, the team at Cox are at the forefront of international trends.
What was your inspiration behind the theatre’s exterior and interior
The design seeks to amplify the anticipation of the theatre experience, an experience that begins before we arrive at the theatre. The flowing facade metaphorically references the theatre curtain drawn across a warm drum. The slot windows allow patrons to peak beyond the curtain, whetting their appetites for the world they are about to be transported to.
The ‘pop-out’ window boxes emanate the joy and excitement of the grand foyer and theatre experience – a destination for all.
Tell us more about the design philosophy and use of space?
Cox architecture has developed a performing arts centre that is truly multifunctional without compromising the grand experience that theatre presents.
The foyer is accessed on the first level and introduces the splendour of the multi-levelled space and a variety of smaller, associated spaces within the volume. At the forefront is a grand serpentine staircase that conjures the romance of the golden age of theatre. It allows the audience to experience the grandeur of the foyer on numerous levels, activating the entire space and creates a ‘show’ in itself.
The curvaceous façade lends itself to providing areas that enable different sized ‘nooks’ for different functions or gatherings. Sinuous and curvaceous walls create spaces within spaces.
The front of house area is featured with a large skylight providing filtered sun during day events and is then illuminated by a great chandelier that brings the night sky, stars and moonlight into the foyer, again adding to the theatre of the space.
The grand central bar becomes the hub of the foyer and is viewed from all levels. It can also become a performance space itself.
The overall design philosophy of the building creates a journey of Transcendence – from light, rigidity and exhibitionism to darkness, voyeurism and fluidity – from ‘be viewed to viewing’.
Are there any notable firsts with regards to this particular design?
Looking at the building as a veil or curtain with minimal windows that heightens curiosity to see what is inside – it’s like the anticipation of opening a particularly well-wrapped birthday present.
The link-bridge increases the anticipation of entry to the Performing Arts Centre. As you proceed, you are introduced to the exterior serpentine façade (curtain) and the expectation of the performance.
Western Sydney Performing Arts Centre will have the first curved, retractable seating, multifunctional performance space in Australia.
The faceted, sweeping white precast concrete façade is a piece of art in itself, contrasting the expanse of vertically slated natural timber walls and dark background colour of the auditorium, readying for the curtain draw.
Tell us more about the materials used within the venue?
The contrast of dark background surfaces are accentuated by the natural beauty of the timber and brass accents which add a touch of luxury.
From the light-coloured terrazzo, marble, timber and brass of the foyer spaces, we transition to the theatre’s timber-slatted core, and to the auditorium, itself wrapped in rhythmic timber slats set against a dark background – perfect for creating anticipation, heightening drama and offering superior acoustic performance.
All the materials have been selected for their durability, longevity and elegance, and are sustainable for years to come.