Plans for $140m Geelong Art Centre Made Public


The Victorian government has unveiled plans for a $140-million arts centre in Geelong.

The Geelong Arts Centre Little Malop Street redevelopment, funded by the state government and being delivered by Geelong Arts Centre, Development Victoria and Creative Victoria, is being constructed by LendLease.

When completed in late 2023, the centre will be the home for arts and performance in the city, providing locals and visitors with a new “cultural experience reflective of local histories”.

Geelong Arts Centre chief executive Joel McGuinness said the proposal, by ARM Architecture, offered a uniquely artistic approach for a landmark institution for the area.

“This design delivers on our bold vision for this project,” McGuinness said.

“It embraces the cultural precinct and challenges the idea of ‘black box theatres’ that turn their back on the world.”

ARM Architecture director Ian McDougall said the firm, very early on, engaged the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporations as co-designers, as well as also working with other First Nations people in Geelong.

Co-designers on the project include Wadawurrung artist Kait James, and local First Nations artists Tarryn Love, Gerard Black and Mick Ryan.

“Each element of the external design is enriched with a story of its own, whether that be visual references relating back to performance, the historical context of the site or to Wadawurrung culture and traditions,” McDougall said.

“Each of the building’s four levels evokes a different Wadawurrung creation narrative, with Earth and Ochre Country expressed at ground level, ascending to Moonah Forest Country, Sky Country and Night Sky on level four.”

Geelong Arts Centre
▲ The project is expected to generate 600 construction jobs and provide opportunities for local apprentices.

The building will feature a concrete drape running across its front, complementing a circus calliope-shaped entrance, referencing early histories of travelling performance in Victoria.

The new centre will include a 500-seat theatre that can be expanded to an 800-person capacity for standing shows, as well as a hybrid theatre with more than 250 seats connected to the Little Malop Street plaza.

Its internal layout has been designed as a series of multi-purpose spaces, each adaptable to a variety of arts, performance and general community uses.

It will also include a number of foyers, bars and alfresco dining to allow the centre host diverse community events, from concerts and exhibitions to festivals and markets.

In Brisbane, the state government-funded New Performing Arts Venue (NPAV), a new $150-million theatre, is quickly taking shape.

The art centre, currently being built as part of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), will soon feature a 1500-seat theatre making the QPAC precinct the largest performing arts centre in Australia.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria’s new contemporary art gallery is moving ahead after four shortlisted Australian design teams filed their stage two submissions earlier this month. The winning submission is due to be announced early next year.

In Sydney, construction at The Art Gallery of NSW’s $345-million museum for contemporary art topped out last week.

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