The Gold Coast Cultural Precinct is a mammoth masterplan for an arty playscape wonderland to be built over 15 years. It occupies 17 hectares at Evandale.
Our overall masterplan includes an amphitheatre, the new Gold Coast Art Gallery, two other theatres, the central Great Terrace, a sub-tropical garden, lakes and bridges, and a water-play area.
The site, on the beautiful Nerang River, has ageing cultural infrastructure and redundant commercial buildings needing demolition. Asphalt carparks dominate. Our masterplan converts it from a governmental precinct to an arts and recreation one.
Instead of a city grid, the precinct will be structured and unified by the dynamic, organic cellular structure of the Voronoi, nature’s most robust but delicate shape. A gelato-coloured diaphanous Voronoi web will be overlaid on the site to form towers, sculptures, lawn tiles, pools, paths, galleries, seats, cladding, umbrellas, display cases, roofs and even sections of a wharf.
A Voronoi diagram is a network of cells that occurs naturally in many plants and animals—even honeycombs and bubbles. We have used it on other projects including the Wintergarden and the Melbourne Recital Centre. Voronoi shapes in nature adapt and shift in response to external change—this is a perfect structure for a cultural precinct that reflects the furious, youthful energy of Australia’s sixth biggest city.
In 2013, the City of Gold Coast launched an international design competition to masterplan a new cultural precinct at Evandale. Seventy-five firms entered and ARM, with German landscape architects TOPOTEK1, was one of three shortlisted teams invited to further develop a concept.
We have replaced the conventional landscape plan with an artscape one generated by Voronoi cells. We worked with TOPOTEK1 to plan a curated botanical and artistic landscape. It comprises 18 distinct sites including the Garden of the First Australians, the landscape collections (which will showcase edible indigenous plants and more recent crops such as sugar cane and pineapples), an art walk and a new inland beach.
Many things will be free of charge, including basketball courts the skate park, outdoor table tennis, water play features, a treetop walk, a hanging playground, public art installations and a landscaped yoga and meditation zone.
The artscape interprets culture in the broadest, most inclusive way. It is egalitarian and unashamedly different from cultural centres in other major cities.
In a major environmentally sustainable design move, our plan replaces carparks with parks, thus increasing public open space. Alternative parking on the site will be either multi-level or underground.
Evandale Lake will be divided into play zones but retain space for swimming the 120-metre laps.
Stage 1 will be completed in November 2017. It’s a versatile double-sided venue: a black-box theatre with a riverside entrance and a back wall that folds away completely, opening the box out onto an amphitheatre with seating and lawn space for 5,000 people. The amphitheatre wall is, in fact, an aircraft hangar door—a massive horizontal bi-fold that collapses against the ceiling away from the walls and stage.
With the hangar door closed, the black box is suitable for small performances, rehearsals and functions. The amphitheatre can host major public events from rock concerts to orchestral performances.
The whole venue is nestled underneath a landscaped mound. There is a commercial kitchen to cater for public and private functions, plus dressing rooms and backstage amenities.
The venue is equipped with the latest digital technologies. The entire precinct will become an interactive virtual hub and digital aggregator for the best of Gold Coast art, design and culture.
This is Stage 2. At 5,500m2, it will be one of the largest regional galleries in Australia, and will house the City of Gold Coast’s extensive collection of art and cultural artefacts plus local and international temporary and touring exhibitions.
The façade is enveloped in a 3D Voronoi, with parts carved out to form the foyer, verandah and terraces. There are fissures or fractures up the face of the building, inspired by the rock formations of nearby Springbrook National Park. The foyer undercroft is akin to the Natural Bridge (a Springbrook rock formation) or maybe the space beneath a typical Queenslander house.
We’re working with exhibition designers Thylacine to ensure all components of the architecture and exhibition design work together.