Architectural practices Hassell and Tropman and Tropman Architects have completely redesigned The Wharf, Sydney Theatre Company’s (STC) award-winning theatre space that was initially transformed from a wool store in the 1980s.

Working in conjunction with the theatre consultant Charcoalblue and construction firm Richard Crookes, The Wharf will be the first theatre in NSW to play to 100 percent audience capacity since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enhancements in security, safety, operational efficiency, environmental performance and access for workers and visitors with disabilities were a key priority of the project. Upgraded to improve facilities and overall access, the site is now a world class facility, that houses the entire theatre-making process under one roof and provides vastly improved experiences for artists, workers and audiences.

Hassell principal Glenn Scott says the practice was delighted by the end result, and was thankful that the STC could have a headquarters that encompasses all facets of their theatre production.

“The Hassell team is honoured to have worked with STC over the last eight years from the initial briefing phase helping develop the ‘all-under-one-roof” philosophy, through detailed design and construction to witness its successful reopening. 

“The STC Wharf Renewal Project is a rare, culturally important, heritage project that is a huge responsibility for a design team to work on – we are delighted with the outcome, and proud that STC can continue their ground-breaking theatre at The Wharf well into the future”.

The renovation includes the re-building and modernisation of the two theatre spaces with upgrades that deliver better amenities, improved acoustic separation and full accessibility for audiences, as well as fully flexible seating configurations for both stages. Two new lifts and two balcony extensions off The Theatre Bar allow for further accessibility and brilliant views of Sydney Harbour. The Bar also has improved kitchen facilities and front-of-house design allowing for more efficient service.

The renovations also include an addition in the shape of the new Neilson Family Gallery, a multipurpose, hireable venue space overlooking The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf and Sydney Harbour. Artists will now have dressing rooms, larger and more comfortable rehearsal rooms, break out spaces, music/vocal coaching rooms and a recording booth.

The STC Wharf Renewal Project has been made possible through the NSW Government funding and private donors. It now reflects the vision of founding Artistic Director, Richard Wherrett (1979-1990), who longed for a flexible, modern theatre space that offers creative entities further possibilities for their productions. 

Images: Supplied