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24 Jan 2020

Geelong Arts Centre dons new skin and old church after Hassell redevelopment
BY Stu Robarts

The centre was redeveloped after Geelong was designated a UNESCO Creative City in 2017

The centre was redeveloped after Geelong was designated a UNESCO Creative City in 2017
photo: Rory Gardiner

Geelong Arts Centre has reopened after a AU$38.5m (US$26,3m, €23.9m, £20.1m) redevelopment by Hassell, with a new translucent skin and a newly revealed heritage church building.

The centre is located in the Australian state of Victoria, where it is the only state-owned arts centre outside of Melbourne.

Following Geelong's designation as a UNESCO Creative City in 2017, it was felt that the centre needed upgrading to serve the city's "growing reputation as a design-forward artistic hub."

The redevelopment focussed on improving the arts experience for visitors and better connecting the Playhouse Theatre and the Ryrie Street Presbyterian Church, which houses a performance space and will become a theatre itself.

The church building, previously hidden by the centre's façade, has been opened up to the street, with the upper portion of the centre's adjacent building dramatically cantilevered over it.

The glazed lower portion of the arts centre and the translucent upper portion provide visibility of what is going on inside and a sense of permeability, while the translucency also creates a feature glow when the centre is illuminated at night.

Inside, new communal and creative spaces include a split-level foyer, a bar area, rehearsal studios and co-working spaces for arts organisations.

Discussing the significance of the redevelopment, Hassell principal Mark Loughnan said: "Geelong Arts Centre will not only be a reinvigorated destination, it will also help service the needs of the growing creative and cultural community. Integrating and revealing the church, the design aims to be experienced as a positive, confident and engaging new identity for the performing arts in Geelong."



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