A new Creative Industries and Performing Arts Development has been given the green light with the project being unanimously approved by the Hobart City Council.

Designed for the University of Tasmania by the Hobart-based Liminal Architecture in partnership with WOHA Architects and global design and engineering firm Arup, the $90m project is set to significantly broaden Tasmania’s cultural reputation at an international level.

The new culture and arts hub is co-located with the heritage-listed Theatre Royal (the oldest continually operating theatre in Australia) and the former Hedberg Bros Garage on the corner of Campbell and Collins Streets in the Hobart CBD.

Designed to house the Conservatorium of Music, Recital Hall, Studio Theatre and the Creative Exchange Institute, the new seven-storey building is expressed as a series of volumes that respond to the city scale to the southwest and step down to the residences along Collins Street. These stepped forms function as terraces that allow for outdoor events, meetings and plenty of green space.

The project’s urban strategy is an expression of that same philosophy of connection, dialogue, reinterpretation and transformation that informs their heritage approach. As a public building, it enables the public to experience the special qualities of the site integrated within a state-of-the-art performance venue and education facility.

The division between old and new is sympathetically resolved with the introduction of a three-level foyer space that connects the new building to the Theatre Royal, with the structure essentially a glass box that still allows the much-loved theatre to ‘breathe’, revealing its previously hidden southeast heritage sandstone wall in the process.

The Hedberg Bros Garage is also a significant part of the project, with its adaptive re-use saving the empty two-storey part of the building from becoming derelict. It will be fully integrated into the development to provide the University with a new ‘front door’ and a distinct, revitalised identity.

The interior design scheme honours the past using modern processes and techniques. There is seamless integration with the design and acoustic engineering in the main musical venues, which has influenced the wall and ceiling treatments.

Arup Principal Andrew Nicol explains that the building features state-of-the-art acoustic, visualisation and computing technologies for versatile learning, rehearsal and performance, some of which have never been seen before.

Foyer flooring will be constructed from recycled materials, overlaid to recognise the various footprints of occupation; bricks and doors from Hedberg Bros Garage will be re-used in the fit-out; and viewing portals will reveal in-situ archaeological deposits.

The area’s Aboriginal culture is celebrated in the scheme with references to traditional cultural activities and storytelling.

Described by the Hobart City Council as iconic for the city of Hobart, the new development also embodies the powerful partnership between the University, State and Commonwealth governments and the Theatre Royal. According to Professor Stephen Loo, Director of the Creative Exchange Institute and the academic leader of the Creative Industries and Performing Arts Development, with the building generating new public spaces, the development will further integrate the University into the heart of the city, deeply embedding it within the community.

The project will be a dynamic hub of activity in an evolving cultural precinct that serves students, professional artists and performers, academics, theatre visitors, the general public and tourists.

The development is due for completion in 2018.