March 30th, 2022.
Twenty-five years after the Darebin Arts Centre (DAC) was completed by Harmer Architecture in 1996, it was time for a refresh of its front-of-house. Sibling Architecture’s design insertion amplifies a new act of arrival to the theatre complex with a Midas touch.
The refurbishment of Darebin Arts Centre by Sibling reimagines the existing public spaces within this active community arts venue while reflecting the resonance and continued joy evoked by the golden era of theatre.
An appropriate sense of drama is evident immediately on arrival into the foyer of the building with a full-height concertinaed gold-foiled wall with brush and reflective surfaces. The golden ‘curtain’ of polished and textured pleated stainless steel, inserted into the eastern side of the building to accomodate front of house functions also houses new accessible spaces that connect to the stage areas, allowing for equitable accessibility for all members of the performance community.
The reception area has been moved into the centre of the foyer to allow easy navigation through the venue which was previously confusing and unclear. The visual expression also works to direct attention to the bar and the entrance to the theatre itself. This public interface ties the venue together, allowing for informal and incidental performances to occur in a truly golden environment.
Nearby, a pop-out reception booth has been conceived as a modular kit-of-parts made up of five mobile units that can be arranged in various configurations and relocated as needed. Across the foyer, navy circular rugs draw waiting crowds from the grey marmoleum floor into social vignettes. These graphics have become part of an interior that instills a comprehensive sense of theatre.
The reflective gold curtain reflects and distorts both the language of tree-like columns throughout the space as well as the actual trees outside. This interplay creates a sense of the infinite, bringing the outside in, and inviting users of the space to ‘perform’ themselves, coaxed by both the reflective columns and large carpet ‘garden beds’ at the base of each column.
The client brief for the project was to create an accessible, distinct and flexible public environment for people who are welcomed into the centre. Taking cues from John Truscott’s interiors for Arts Centre Melbourne in the 1980’s, Sibling has consolidated a design that created a new identity for Darebin Arts Centre. Re-establishing the arrangement of front of house spaces naturally informs navigation from entry, to reception, to the bar area and then onto the entrances into the theatre. This fluidity and ease creates a clear and distinct circulation through the foyer space that feels warm and welcoming.
Sibling Architecture has successfully transformed the public spaces of the venue into a welcoming and contemporary arts centre that can proudly stand amongst other exemplar Melbourne arts venues. Leveraging Truscott’s precedent work, his legacy has taught Sibling that embellishment can be joyful, pure, uplifting, luxe, and for everyone.
Architecture + Design | Sibling Architecture
Images | Christine Francis