Geelong Arts Centre’s $38.5m redevelopment has opened with a new Ryrie Street entrance set in a modern façade providing new experiences for its visitors across Geelong and other regions.

Geelong Arts Centre is the only state-owned arts centre in Victoria outside of Melbourne and aims to cultivate the growing creative and cultural needs of its community.

The design blends the old and the new, introducing modern translucency that dramatically reveals a previously, hidden heritage church.

The form of it sits above a new foyer and forecourt, which projects out onto Ryrie Street endeavouring to establish a strong civic presence, and ever-increasing fluidity to it surrounding area.

The new structure provides universal access to the Playhouse Theatre alongside studios, making it a cultural hub anticipated to be enjoyed by a vast array of visitors.

“Geelong Arts Centre will not only be a reinvigorated destination; it will also help service the needs of the growing creative and cultural community. Integrating and revealing the church, the design aims to be experienced as a positive, confident and engaging new identity for the performing arts in Geelong,” says Mark Loughnan, principle of Hassell.

The interior of the building’s design carves out a wide range of communal and creative spaces, including two new levels of foyer, a bar area, rehearsal studios and co-working spaces for arts organisations to work collaboratively.

Connected by a grand, curving staircase, the new ground floor and balcony foyer service, The Playhouse theatre, as well as offering a unique public space for the local Geelong community.

“Growing up in Geelong and now seeing Geelong Arts Centre’s Ryrie Street building come to fruition has given me an immense amount of pride. It’s not often that you get to work on international projects and use that experience to deliver a project such as this,” says Loughnan.

Martin Foley MP, minister for Creative industries says, “Geelong Arts Centre has long been at the heart of Geelong’s creative community – it was built after passionate locals lobbied and fundraised for a centre to celebrate local talent and bring the best in creativity to the region. Thirty-eight years later, the community has grown and so has Geelong Arts Centre.”

“We’re proud to have supported this latest chapter and the growth of the region as a creative hub.”