The Belridge Secondary College Performing Arts Centre transforms the drama of the interior into a dynamic and engaging exterior experience that shifts the audience from passive observer into excited and willing participant.
The original Belridge Secondary College Performing Arts Centre was designed by the Building Management Authority of Western Australia in 1994. iredale pedersen hook were engaged by the Department of Finance to add a new Performing Arts Theatre, renovate and extend the existing theatre, upgrade existing facilities and provide universal access.
The addition extends from the school administration centre, bordered by an elevated grove of mature She-oak (Casuarinas) trees. Rather than view the restricted site size negatively, we optimistically embarked on a solution that would connect interior performances to the exterior, allowing the She-oak grove to act as a natural external auditorium and the sloping grass mound to become an alterative relaxed seating area with the building acting as a stage and cantilevered curtain.
The entry is on a cross axis to the existing centre, stretching the experience of arriving and dramatically announcing the entry to the public. A cantilevered bio box doubles as a verandah an integrated art installation by Rick Gurney. Opposite sits a large bold blue object that confidently captures and reveals the spilling and elegance of flowing and falling rainwater.
The school includes a strong dance program, the notion of synchronised and fluid bodies pushed to their extremity is reflected in the cantilevering building elements that elegantly taper, fold, float and drape providing shade and cover will an element of surprise.
The steeply raking section references the existing (redundant) wind scoops with a sequence of light halos casting circular, angelical light on to the adjacent wall. A bronze backed mirror wall completes the orchestrated foyer sequence, a brief moment to gaze at ones-self in the context of others, and a response to the contemporary desire to find a selfie moment.
The entry to the new performance space is aligned on the cross axis of the existing space, the section rises and falls along this axis building expectation prior to the performance.
In contrast to the foyer, the main performance space is restrained and focused, all attention is directed to the stage. Distractions of services is minimised, shadowed to the ceiling and out of view. A band of acoustic performing timber battens provides a subtle, tactile and warm backdrop to the performers, connecting performers and audience. Walls gently taper in and out without distraction, silently responding to acoustic desires.
The design focuses on the capacity of architecture to enrich the experience of performances and to connect performers and audience . The architecture is confident but knows when to be silent, it embraces rich and tactile materials and textures and elevates the quality of our secondary school performance spaces to that of a community facility expectation. This is achieved with exceptional value for money and within a compressed timeframe of only 19 months from design commencement to construction completion.
Light is considered as an act of theatre, beginning with the backlit artwork announcing the facility to the neighbourhood.
Continuous strip lighting stretches the experience from outside to inside, building a refined drama, elongated in the bronze backed mirror.
Three circular lights project distinctive mystical halos that register the movement of the sun.
Six bronze circular wall lights gathers ones gaze in a moment of nostalgia. This extends to the three lights designed by Alvar Aalto, the A110 pendant light, affectingly known as the ‘Hand Grenade’.
The main performance space creates diverse atmospheres, the architecture must support and interact, without distraction or competition. Here, lighting is purposely concealed, no longer is lighting as an object desirable.
The green room embellishes a contemporary LED interpretation of the now obsolete individual bulbs.
Externally up-lights and downlights reveal the drama of architecture, from heroic cantilevers to finely detailed brickwork and metallic surfaces.
Client: Department of Finance and Department of Education Western Australia
Architectural Team: Adrian Iredale, Finn Pedersen, Martyn Hook, Mary McAree, Kim Valas, Tessa Ansell, Sion Bourne, Rebecca Hawkett, Amanda Hendry, Jason Lenard
Builder: McCorkell Construction
Interior: iredale pedersen hook architects
Structural Engineer: Terpkos Engineering
Art Installations: Rick Vermey