The brief called for the insertion of a new Arts Centre within an existing school complex. A 600 seat theatre was to be provided together with art studios, music rooms and drama studios all within a tight budget constraint.
The restrictive nature of the site led to a multi level building stepping down the existing slope. A strategic decision was made to place the theatre at the lower level up against the hill side. This allowed a spacious lobby with panoramic sea views above and naturally lit and ventilated ancillary rooms in front.
It was critical to the successful functioning of the building that the circulation concerns of both students and public were clearly and efficiently resolved. The student circulation is cantilevered out providing a direct link to the existing school buildings and enabling student access to be maintained when the foyer and theatre are holding public events.
The external design was deliberately contextual with care taken not to overwhelm the existing school buildings whilst giving the Arts Centre its own character and identity. The main body is kept simple with banding and a stepped profile blending it harmoniously into the existing school while the modern sweeping roof provides distinctive character and contrasts with existing pitched roofs. This feature roof is articulated as an individual element floating above the main body of the building. Its large overhangs gracefully supported by slender V-shaped columns provide shelter to the drop off area and external terrace and give shading to the full height glazing of the foyer.
Internally, the theatre is given a warm ambience with walls covered in maple veneer or red fabric depending on the acoustic requirements. In the main foyer, a graciously curved red metal ceiling provides a dynamic character to the space.