Setting the scene Perth State Theatre designed by Kerry Hill architects

Perth State Theatre designed by Kerry Hill architects
Story by: Mary Webb
This is the Perth State Theatre, designed by architecture, daylighting, landmark, light, structure, tourist attraction, wood, brown
This is the Perth State Theatre, designed by Kerry Hill Architects. Seen from the outside this is the wooden clad drum which houses the main theatre. There is a staircase curving around the outside.

Designing a theatre on a tight and awkward central city property, on the other hand, presents an entirely different challenge.

Kerry Hill Architects won a competition to design Perth's new State Theatre Centre (STC) on a small site on the edge of the city's Cultural Centre, close to heritage-listed buildings and the low-rise Northbridge entertainment area.

To maximise the limited ground space and provide an efficient and cost-effective design, the two theatres are positioned centrally on the site and stacked vertically. This has freed up space for a large courtyard, which doubles as an outdoor events space and an urban plaza. Theatre foyers are located on the perimeter of the site, and as well as recognising and respecting the urban scale of the surrounding streets, these low, transparent volumes invite passers-by to connect with the activity within. Multiple entrances to the foyer create a welcoming venue that links easily with the surrounding two and three-storey streetscape.

The theatre integrates with adjoining heritage-listed buildings and incorporates some of these into the STC venue, ensuring the building entices people to explore what is within and to appreciate its extensive spaces, says the architectural team.


This is the Perth State Theatre, designed by angle, architecture, building, daylighting, facade, house, landmark, light, line, roof, sky, structure, wood, red, blue, black
This is the Perth State Theatre, designed by Kerry Hill Architects. This is the entrance way.

To enhance the space, many existing tenancies on the street frontage of the STC were redesigned. Large doors from these shops connect to the main courtyard, and one shopfront was removed to create a larger entrance to this space.

In part, the design expresses the opposing forces of mass and transparency. The STC is built from dark, robust materials black metal and panelled concrete which form a protective shell, while layered reflections from glass facades hint at what is within. At night, however, the volumes glow, the fly tower the dominant feature lights up, and the street-front foyers multilevelled and veiled in delicate gold screens are revealed.

Graham Walne, theatre consultant for the Government of WA, developed an overall brief for the complex to ensure visitors to the STC enjoyed themselves and were keen to return.

"What you see is only part of the experience. Size, seating plans, lighting and equipment were all carefully researched to create the optimum result."

This is the Perth State Theatre, designed by angle, area, black and white, design, diagram, drawing, floor plan, line, product, product design, square, structure, white
This is the Perth State Theatre, designed by Kerry Hill Architects. Here is a blueprint of the building.

The STC complex contains two distinctively different theatres. The Heath Ledger Theatre, a curved timber drum that peels away from a panelled concrete shell, is accessed by a generous staircase, and its warm, intimate interior is lined with timber and gold hues.

Below it, the Studio Underground has a darker interior that celebrates the robust industrial language of grids and trusses that are essential for flexible performance spaces. To extend the options, a large opening links it to the main rehearsal room.

Sep 19, 2011

Credit list

Building owner
Department of Treasury and Finance Building Management and Works
Main contractor
John Holland Group
Theatre technical consultant
Marshall Day Entertech
Electrical, lift, hydraulic and fire engineer
Structural and civil engineer
Airey Taylor Consulting
Landscape architect
Tierra Design
BCA consultant
JMG Building Surveyors
Public art co-ordinator
Maggie Baxter
Height safety
Safemaster
Architect
Kerry Hill Architects
Project manager
NS Projects
Acoustic consultant
Marshall Day Acoustics
Services engineer, acoustics and ESD
Aecom
Facade engineer
Meinhardt Facade Technology
Heritage architect
Kelsall Binet Architects
Lighting design
Electrolight
Signage
Block Branding
Traffic
Sinclair Knight Merz
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