The proposed development of a new home for the Orange Regional Conservatorium has reached a fresh milestone following the award of a $933,000 contract by the Orange City Council to architectural firm Brewster Hjorth to create detailed designs for the building.

Brewster Hjorth had earlier produced the concept plans, based on which the project received planning approval from the Western Region Planning Panel in December last year. The studio will now create detailed design plans for the conservatorium and planetarium to be built on March Street alongside the library and North Court area. The new plans, which will have the level of detail required to put the project out to tender for construction, are expected to be ready by mid-2022.

The new Orange Regional Conservatorium comprises of three main areas: a Conservatorium of Music, a main Recital Hall and a Planetarium.

The $20-million project was necessitated by the existing Orange Regional Conservatorium having grown far beyond its current physical capabilities. With over 35 professional musicians, teachers and administrative staff, only 18 teaching studios and no dedicated rehearsal spaces, the need for a new building had become crucial.

The new conservatorium will include a 250-seat auditorium (with capacity built-in for an additional 48 seats or additional stage); a 74-seat planetarium auditorium; 40 practice studios and rehearsal spaces; front and back of house facilities including main lobby, bar and kitchen; and office space, amenities and ancillary spaces.

The building will also feature a ‘living green wall’ that wraps around its perimeter integrating landscape into the building design.

The new conservatorium project will be funded by a $10 million grant committed by the Australian Government and an allocation of $5 million by the Orange City Council. The remaining $5 million will come from the councillors if other grant opportunities do not eventuate.

“The sheer scale and complexity of a multi-faceted project like this, means it’s going to be a while before there are shovels in the ground but we’re on our way,” Orange mayor Reg Kidd said.

“This is going to be a building that’s going to be in use for generations, so we want to do the best we can. With more than 1400 enrolments this is already one of the biggest education facilities in the city and this project will ensure there is room for growth into the second half of this century,” he added.

The mayor also believes the conservatorium would be an ideal project to gain funding support as part of the NSW Government’s efforts to stimulate the state’s economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Conservatorium Committee chair Cr Russell Turner, who served on the council that made the decision to deliver the project said, “The value of this project is huge for Orange. When someone is deciding whether to move here and open a new business, it’s our city’s rich cultural life that can make all the difference.”

Situated within the same block as the Orange Regional Gallery, Museum, Library and Civic Theatre, the Orange Regional Conservatorium will complete the Orange Cultural Precinct, becoming a hub of arts, education and entertainment in the Central West.

Image: Artist’s impression, West Entrance – Recital Hall Entry (Orange City Council/ Brewster Hjorth)