Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (fjmt) has won Victoria’s $125 million Casey Cultural Precinct design competition, beating practices Lyons and ARM, Denton Corker Marshall and John Wardle Architects to bring its striking designs to life.  

Selected by a four-member design jury comprising industry professionals and Council representatives, the firm’s proposed design draws inspiration from the surrounding landscape, local culture and history of the precinct.  

A blend of material sequences and outdoor spaces integrates the landscape with the design of the buildings, forming the common thread linking together the distinct spaces – the 800-seat performing arts centre, regional art gallery, civic centre and council offices, and community plaza.

As visitors arrive, they will be greeted by ‘eagle wings’ branching out over the entry of the building. The distinctive winged roof form of steel and timber embraces the centre and its community both physically and symbolically. From the south-west corner, this design creates an instantly recognisable statement on the corner of Princes Highway and Magid Drive.

The three-storey building also features a contemporary curved glass façade, which allows an abundance of natural light to stream into the foyer. This warm ambience is complemented by the timber interior.

From the building, gently curving pathways lead to a vast community plaza providing grassed and soft landscaped areas, as well as a versatile amphitheatre that is suitable for various public events.

According to City of Casey Director, Casey Cultural Precinct, Steve Dalton, fjmt’s submission fully met the compliance and qualitative criteria expected by the design jury.

“Fjmt developed a series of design principles which addressed the accessibility, sustainability, technology, connectedness, material and value for money of the design,” Dalton said.

The jury’s decision completes the six-month design competition, which attracted over 20 high quality entries in the first stage. Four teams, including fjmt, then competed in the intensive six-week final stage of the competition.

Envisioned as “an inviting central heart for the community that celebrates participation, belonging and civic pride”, the Casey Cultural Precinct is one of the largest projects a local government in Victoria has ever embarked on.

The 22,000sqm precinct is expected to contribute $152 million to the economy during construction, and over $4 million annually once it becomes operational. It seeks to address Casey’s rapid population growth, as well as an increasing need for arts and cultural facilities within the municipality.

“The winning design is striking, engaging and functional, and will ensure the Casey Cultural Precinct will be an inviting central heart for the community,” praised City of Casey Major, Geoff Ablett.

“[It] is a fantastic outcome for the community and will be a welcoming place for everyone to come together when it opens in 2017.”

Casey Cultural Precinct Design from City of Casey on Vimeo.