O’Regan Arts and Cultural Common
Ian Brewster and Andrew Hjorth
COMMENDATION: CATEGORY 2: NEW CONSTRUCTION, MAJOR FACILITY
Monte Sant ‘ Angelo Mercy College 128 Miller Street North Sydney , NSW 2055 Australia
Christian Mushenko / Tyrone Branigan
The O ‘Regan Arts and Cultural Common is a wonderful and surprising building. The Centre houses a range of ensemble, performance and teaching spaces, practice rooms and galleries as well as a new 300 seat theatre. The new building sits lightly against its heritage neighbours with almost two thirds the area of the new building located below-ground.
This outstanding project was conceived as an active learning centre for the students and staff at the Monte Saint Angelo Mercy College to promote and showcase their performance arts based creativity and to allow access and use by the broader community.
The master planning for the project was undertaken over many years. Due to the constrained nature of the site, the building provides much of its accommodation below ground, under a new open green space which connects with surrounding heritage buildings and opens up a new entry into the school heart.
The project brief included a 300 person theatre with flat floor stage, multi-use teaching and learning spaces and a range of smaller studios spaces which can be transformed into ensemble rooms. The tall foyer space acts as a thermal chimney for natural ventilation to all spaces.
User comments noted that the facility represents 21st Century learning in the broadest sense and provides the College with a real-life opportunity for the school and the community to engage, celebrate and collaborate.
Teachers are able to use the flexible learning spaces in new and exciting ways. Students have a sense that there is now a home for celebrating the importance of performance arts at the school.
The design quality of the finished building impressed the Awards jurors and has exceeded the original expectations of the College. The result is an outstanding facility which was highly commended.
The O ‘Regan Arts and Cultural Common for Monte Sant ‘ Angelo Mercy College is a wonderful and surprising building. It opens a public link into a sequestered CBD campus establishing a new benchmark for cultural education facilities.
The Centre houses a range of ensemble, performance and teaching spaces, practice rooms and galleries as well as a new 300 seat theatre.
The new building sits lightly against its heritage neighbours with almost two thirds the area of the new building located below-ground. Its above ground facades extend the forms of the existing heritage buildings and the adjacent School Chapel to create the new Congregation Green. The large bulk of the new theatre and its supporting spaces is excavated into the sandstone beneath the site.
The Foyer is set at the level of the School ‘s main gateway, a wide entry Promenade connecting to the building is excavated into the slope and lined with translucent resin sheet to create a dramatic public access path to the theatre.
Careful consideration of the spaces between buildings has been undertaken to create a series of connecting outdoor spaces which can be used for flexible learning and performance.
The School ‘s brief called for a constantly active building combining performance, teaching, practice and production spaces. The design responded with a completely integrated facility; including galleries, tutorial rooms and recording studios, the new wing includes ensemble rooms, drama rooms, the theatre and music practice rooms which line and overlook the foyer.
The Foyer works as an active space throughout the day, linking the teaching spaces and performance venues with the School. The music practice rooms overlook the foyer and create a dramatic faceted sculptural form
The Theatre was conceived as a state of the art educational facility as well as a Professional Standard venue, it was designed as a ‘nurturing ‘ space for young performers: the seating arrangement brings the audience close to the stage, there is no centre aisle, and the stage is a flat floor without a proscenium to promote flexibility.
The Learning environments have been carefully designed to both incorporate the specific requirements of primary users and create flexible teaching spaces that all faculties of the College can use.
The educational environment has been enhanced through maximising natural light with sunshade control, providing glazed partitions to common spaces to create visual connections, use of robust materials which incorporate the acoustic absorption required for music and drama. The material palette has also been chosen to include natural timber linings and fabric linings which enhance concentration and creativity.