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15 Oct 2019

Scott Carver Architects to renovate oldest theatre in New South Wales, Australia
BY Stu Robarts

The theatre is expected to cost around AU$11.5m (US$7.8m, €7m, £6.1m) to refurbish

The theatre is expected to cost around AU$11.5m (US$7.8m, €7m, £6.1m) to refurbish
photo: Scott Carver / Synth Visual

The Victoria Theatre, the oldest in the Australian state of New South Wales, is to undergo a renovation led by Scott Carver Architects aimed at conserving its heritage features and reviving it as a venue for live performances.

Located in the city of Newcastle, the theatre is expected to cost around AU$11.5m (US$7.8m, €7m, £6.1m) to refurbish, which is said to be more than justifiable investment from a business perspective.

The Victoria, which dates back to 1891 and has stood unused as an entertainment venue since 1966, was bought by Century Venues in 2015 with a view to restoring it as a live working heritage theatre.

Doug Southwell, director at Scott Carver Architects, told CLAD that the intention is to reinstate a balcony as part of the building's façade and to extend the building backwards to provide additional facilities for both performers and patrons. He also explained that a sensitive approach to the interior refurbishment was the most important element of the project.

"With sensitivity to the original history of the building, the design will celebrate its character through a 'gentle' approach, with any new addition cleverly integrated within the theatre fabric," said Southwell. "Where major interventions are required, the new works will be clearly stated and recognisable, ensuring that the historic layering is not lost. Rather than full restoration as such, the history of change is being celebrated, including it’s wonderful ceilings, wall elements and magnificent hardwood timber fly tower."

Greg Khoury, executive director of Century, said: "Compared to the investment required to build from scratch a facility of this scale, offering up to 1,000 capacity, the revival of the Victoria is incredible value for money. It is low-hanging fruit in returning to use a unique and highly desirable piece of our cultural history, quickly and affordably."

Discussing the restoration work that will be required, he said: "The brief was to touch the building fabric as lightly as possible, to preserve its remarkable heritage values, while ensuring the greatest functional flexibility, accessibility and amenity for artists and patrons alike in the 21st Century."

Design work commenced six months ago, after a 12 month process of removing rubbish and making the building safe. Century Venues is due to lodge an application for the development of the theatre.



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