The State Theatre Centre (STC), designed by Kerry Hill Architects, sits elegantly on the edge of one of Perth’s least attractive urban environments.
Once the site of the Governor Broome Hotel but more recently a car park, the STC is located on a small site that was selected for the transformative potential a new building on the periphery of the maligned Cultural Centre might offer.
The unanimous winner of a two-stage competition, instigated by the Department of Culture and the Arts and run by the Urban Design Centre’s inaugural director Ruth Durack, the Kerry Hill Architects scheme is remarkable for the deft move of stacking the brief’s two largest programmatic elements – the 575-seat proscenium arch theatre and a smaller, flexible “black box” studio theatre – on top of one another.
This liberated the ground plane of the tight and difficult site and effectively allowed for the provision of two extra theatre spaces – the open-air main courtyard and the rehearsal room for the black box. The scheme’s formal strategy articulates the individual programmatic elements as a series of rectilinear volumes clad in a palette of materials that are robust, refined, glamorous and pragmatic. None of the geometry is “pure”; instead its elements are incomplete, overlapped or notched into one another, creating a density to the architectural composition.