CHROFI and NBRS Architecture have been chosen to refurbish The Sutherland Entertainment Centre.
Formerly known as the ‘Sutherland Civic Centre’, the venue was designed and built in the 1970s, and was used primarily as a music venue. It relied on an inward focus on its auditorium and on a narrow public address to Eton Street.
At this time, buildings of this type relied on a separation between inside and outside. This was also long before the development of Peace Park to the building’s north.
Structurally, the building remains in good condition despite its age. However, it fails to meet the cultural and technical needs of today’s society. According to the architects, the building needs to open its outlook and offer more to the community, in terms of spatial flexibility and the building’s relationship with its surrounds.
The proposal by CHROFI and NBRS seeks to create a better relationship between the Entertainment Centre and Peace Park. This will be an opportunity to re-affirm Peace Park as the civic heart of Sutherland.
The architects have proposed an active interface with Peace Park, a ‘verandah’ which will serve as a connective threshold between the park and the building, and between inside and out. This interface will help mediate the change in level between park and building to provide a connection between Merton Street and Eton Street. This, through a new restaurant/café offering will help activate the park’s southern edge and create a more visible and accessible entry for the Entertainment Centre.
The new foyer will be an extension of the verandah space. It will still serve its traditional role as a gathering space at performance times but also becomes a ‘performance’ space of its own right, serving a range of community uses such as banquets, exhibitions and small musical performances.
Much of the building’s existing fabric is expected to be re-used. This includes the auditorium, which will keep its envelope but will become a new and more lively space. The existing flat floor will be transformed into a more immersive tiered seating arrangement and all acoustics, accessibility and back of house functions revitalised to provide a venue with broad appeal for audiences and performers alike. The new theatre will be designed to meet or exceed national benchmarks for performing arts centres, achieving a four-star rating for theatres on the local, regional and national touring circuit.