Architecture & Urbanism



Gippsland Performing Arts Centre

Traralgon, VIC

2022



A box of trees

The new Gippsland Performing Arts Centre is the centrepiece of the Latrobe Creative Precinct in the Victorian city of Traralgon. Katsieris Origami are Design Directors for the project having won the architectural competition together with our project partners, Jackson Architecture.

The centre comprises a 750 seat proscenium theatre with full fly-tower, seating stalls, balcony, orchestra pit with lifting platform, below-stage trappable area, scenery storess, performer's facilities, conference and meeting rooms.

A key part of the building's construction utilised local manufacturing skill and capacity in the fabrication and assembly of glue-laminated (Glulam) timber structures; the abstract, tree-like columns that define the main foyer.

The symbolic stand of tree-columns, manufactured from Victorian Ash, recalls the traditional and continuing importance of trees and timber to the region. The stand of tree-columns allude to a lost heritage of heroic timber constructions that the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland once contained. The mountain regions around Traralgon were once dotted with majestic timber trestle bridges, tall viaducts, and steep-incline, winch-tramways constructed of endemic hardwood timbers. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the abundance of these strong, dense Victorian hardwoods, combined with a deep technical knowledge of the material, led to the construction of these impressive but now forgotten structures.

A box of red
In contrast to the field of trees in the foyer, the theatre auditorium is its philosophical other; a direct material and spatial counterpoint. Whereas the foyer is defined by a tight cluster of trees with overlapping branches seemingly splintering the upper foyer volume, the auditorium space is a singular, open, free-span volume.
The warm, timber tones of the foyer are vividly contrasted by the striking colour of the auditorium. The auditrium’s scale and rich, earth-red finishes raise the intensity of the thetrical experience.
Wrap-around, undulating perimeter walls and reflector panels suspended from its ceiling, all finished in the same intense red hue, create an immersive effect on entry.
The creased perimeter walls and folded ceiling panels assist the acoustics. They create differently angled hard and soft surfaces allowing sound produced on-stage to better reflect and refract throughout the audience area.

Latrobe Creative Precinct
The design of the wider site areas also involved adapting exising buidings around the site to contribute to the formation of a coherent new creative precinct. Exterior sections of the existing buildings were altered to work in tandem with the new performing arts centre and delineate a series of new, multi-use external areas. These are open public spaces suitable for many civic uses including open-air concerts, small-scale performances, art-happenings, festivals, markets, exhibitions, out-door community events, open-air cinema and everyday, passive recreation space.

Architecture can achieve so much more than the fact of its own presence. We hope that in some way, the design of this project heralds an emerging, sustainable mass-timber fabrication expertise and capacity  in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley and Gippsland regions.


Traditional and Continuing Land
Gunai / Kurnai Country


Client
Latrobe City Council


Area
4,850 m2 (excluding parking basement)


Levels
4


Status
Builidng complete; exterior public spaces completion due Q2 2022


Project Team
Jackson Architecture & Katsieris Origami:
Architects in Association


Genre
Meta-Modern


Theme
Grove of Trees within Prismatic Volumes


©2021 KATSIERIS ORIGAMI 
Architecture & Urbanism