The Pavilion Performing Arts Centre (formally The Sutherland Entertainment Centre) holds an important place in the collective memory of the Sutherland community. Designed and built in the 1970s primarily as a musical venue, the former entertainment centre relied on an inward focus on the auditorium and narrow public address to Eton Street. This was also long before the development of Peace Park to the buildings north.
With the 40+ year old building as our starting point, our design concept aimed to recreate a modern-day public venue, which would cater to a diversity of cultural and technical needs. It required a more open outlook and needed to offer more to its community, both in terms of its relationship with its immediate surrounds but also in its spatial flexibility.
The design establishes a new and more engaging address for the performing arts centre by virtue of a friendlier, integrated relationship with Peace Park, drawing on the opportunity to re-affirm Peace Park as the civic heart of Sutherland – becoming a place with a connection to current and future developments within the Sutherland Town Centre.
A new verandah along the northern edge of the building encourages an active integration of both Peace park and the foyer building. The interface helps to mediate the level of change between park and building, providing an at-grade connection between Merton Street and Eton Street which, previously was only available through the centre itself. Additionally, the new verandah activates the parks southern edge via a new cafe offering a more visible and accessible entry for the performing arts centre.
The new foyer, an extension of this verandah space, is conceived as a park pavilion of sorts. The structure, composed as a grid of mass laminated timber, mirrors the geometry and robustness of the exiting masonry building. As the hardest working space within the re-imagined centre, the foyer serves its traditional role as a gathering place at performance times but also as a performance space in its own right, now becoming a venue for a diverse range of community uses from banquets and exhibitions, to intimate musical performances.
Just as we unlocked much spatial potential between the building and the park, we found opportunities to re-use and adapt much of the original building’s current fabric. We retained the existing black box space and administration building and re-purposed them for foyer, meeting and rehearsal uses.
Likewise, the structure and facade on the north side of the building has been adapted for new uses. Connected by the existing egress stair, a view of the park can be seen from the cafe on the ground floor, as well as administration spaces and green room on Level 1. The auditorium also retains much of its surrounding envelope but becomes an entirely new and lively space. The existing flat floor has been transformed into a more immersive tiered seating arrangement and all acoustics, accessibility and back of house functions revitalised to provide a venue with broad appeal for audiences and performers alike.