Specialist Performing Arts Facility

Rockingham SHS, Read Street, Rockingham, Western Australia

Rockingham SHS needed a unique solution for the design of their Performing Arts Facility. We gave them a venue that thrills and brings a little drama all of its own.

Rockingham SHS was in desperate need of a new Specialist Performing Arts Facility – drama lessons, storage, green room and performance were all currently being managed through a transportable classroom. Our concept had to balance a range of conflicting concerns. As a theatre the building needed to be open and welcoming to the public, but it also needed to be an integral part of the private community of the school during the day. It would be a place to teach and also a space in which to provide entertainment. It would be a place of work for the school’s creative departments and students, but it would also need to be comfortable and aesthetically pleasing for visitors.

We began with the functional aspects of the design; the materials and the construction would need to be robust and hard-wearing enough to withstand daily use. We chose face brick for the walls and corrugated metal for the roof cladding, in keeping with the other school buildings. The roof is highly sculptural giving the building a literal sense of ‘drama’, and it also mimics the form of an overturned ship’s hull, in reference to Rockingham’s coastal location. We also installed lighting and translucent sheeting into the overhanging canopies, which gives them a lantern-like quality at night. This not only brings a little of the theatre atmosphere outside, but also assists with way-finding for visitors.

To be comfortable and functional, performance venues must essentially be sealed, air conditioned compartments. This represented significant energy and maintenance costs over the life of the building, so we reduced the size of the main chamber and implemented several energy efficient design elements. Alongside extensive insulation and solar passive design, the depth of the roof form creates an insulating pocket of air to help regulate the temperature inside. The multi-purpose teaching/rehearsal rooms also utilise cross-ventilation to reduce their reliance on air conditioning.