Published on: April 15, 2011
Located on the corner of Roe and William Streets in Northbridge, the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia features the 575 seat Heath Ledger Theatre and the flexible performance space, Studio Underground, capable of seating 200+
See more below:
The State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, designed by Kerry Hill Architects (KHA) opened on 27 January 2011 and is located on the corner of Roe and William Streets in Northbridge, just outside the City of Perth. It features the 575 seat Heath Ledger Theatre and the 234 seat flexible Studio Underground theatre. The Centre includes two rehearsal rooms, two flexible-use function rooms, an internal courtyard and administrative offices for the Black Swan State Theatre Company. The development sits within Perthâ€™s existing cultural precinct that supports the State Library and Art Gallery of Western Australia and is visible from the northern edge of the Perth city centre and surrounds. Electrolight was commissioned to design specialist lighting to all public areas of the State Theatre Centre. Key elements of the architectural design include the entry from Roe Street, the gilded Bronze Box foyer and the glowing fly tower.
LIGHTING DESIGN CONCEPT
KHA has created a cleverly layered series of interlocked spaces over several levels. The lighting is an integrated element of the architecture which helps to create a distinctive daytime and nighttime appearance that delineates both the function and the form of the various spaces.Â The overall design concept for the lighting to the State Theatre of WA seeks to metaphorically support the activity of making of theatre, a craft that informs explicitly and subtly the way we think about the world. The lighting always seeks to impart a sense of drama and possibility in its application and appearance.Â Light leads the visitor on a journey through the space that resolves around the dedicated illumination of specific elements and functional requirements. We have not designed for blanket uniformity but rather a quality of light which provides strength of focus and contrast. Light accentuates material selections, reveals textures and supports the fabrics palette. Luminaires that are not concealed have been deliberately positioned to create unexpected arrangements on the ceiling surfaces that encourage a renewed sense of character for the space.
We believe that detailed consideration of the distribution of brightness across the whole building is the key to a successful design approach for the facility. We aimed to paint with light in three dimensions to direct attention to various surfaces to create a considered sense of drama and dynamic. Before selecting individual fittings we considered techniques that allowed us to distribute light in the spaces appropriately.
â€¢ Wallwashing- the creation of bright vertical surfaces allows attention to be drawn over distance, accentuating views through spaces and through architectural elements
â€¢ Light on people- the light creates spaces in which people can see and be seen, creating the effect of â€˜stagesâ€™ within the building that bring the drama from the theatre in to the space
â€¢ Reflection- the use of reflection from surfaces including bright metal, water and timber allows light to be infused within the space and to become a part of the architecture in a cohesive manner
â€¢ Integration- the use of light that is truly integrated with the architecture will allow for a coherent relationship between light, form and space. The avoidance of lighting solutions which are tacked onto an existing form is paramount
â€¢ Colour- the careful selection of colour temperatures is fundamental to the creation of a seamless lighting scheme that responds to the colour palette of the architectural finishes. The appropriate choice of colour temperatures and use of colour filters as appropriate will ensure that a cohesive scheme is achieved.
The Bronze Box is an impressive scattering of gilded bronze pipes of different lengths extending from the ceiling of the main entry foyer and staircase. The pipes at the edges of the foyer continue to the floor creating a broken screen that filters the strong natural light that penetrates the full height windows. Column-mounted uplights provide light to the installation creating a dimensional play of glints and shadows. The lighting of this element is crucial to the both the external appearance of the building and the internal experience for patrons.Â KHA and Electrolight worked together to create an irregular array of domed gold buttons that are scattered over the ceiling surface between the pipes. These small domes catch the light and create a sparkling illusion of additional light sources by virtue of their highly-reflective polished surface. They function as an integrated sculptural element that creates a theatrical trompe lâ€™oeil of light.
The box office is one of few spaces with strict technical lighting criteria within the foyer areas. This includes adequate light for the handling of money and tickets and screen based tasks. The lighting in this area uses fittings that fulfil both utilitarian and appearance criteria. By necessity this area is brightly lit, creating a focal point within the space and assisting visitors with wayfinding and orientation. Additional bright elements within the box office include back-lit poster displays and signage.
The Underground Studio Bar is the focal point of this foyer, lit in a manner that supports its function with the surrounding areas being lit to comparatively lower levels. The white, curved ceiling element above the Studio foyer is an element that visually extends the space towards level 1. This ceiling feature is subtly lit from its lower edge to accentuate the curve with custom-designed white cold cathode lighting. The colour temperature is 4000K which lifts the white surface and provides a dramatic contrast with the warm light emanating from the adjacent Bronze Box.
The lift doors provide another highlight with concealed narrow halogen dichroic downlights providing a pattern of light in the hairline stainless steel surface. Art works on the walls of the Studio foyer are individually lit with a wall mount spotlighting system. The flexibility of the lighting system allows for adaption as exhibitions are rotated through the space.
Main Theatre Foyer
The dominant architectural element of the Main Theatre foyer is the timber drum surrounding the Heath Ledger Auditorium. Rather than merely wall-washing this surface, the design intent was to illuminate the wall with a light which reflects significant amounts of light into the general space. Light reflected from the drum is infused with the colour of the timber and provides warm light to the space.Â Custom-designed, surface mounted cylindrical downlights, finished in a matt black with gold inner reflective surface are located over the custom designed ottomans in the main foyer. The circular layout mirrors the shapes of the ottomans and co ordinates with the materials used in their construction. The result is contained pools of light and object that emerge evocatively from their surrounding.
The lighting to the rest rooms was designed with the same degree of care as the rest of the facility. The scheme provides a softly lit elegance and responds to the warm tan and gold colour scheme. Lighting is integrated with the architectural fabric, using the curve of the room to create a series of spokes along which light travels. The use of warm colour temperatures and the provision of concealed light to mirrors is crucial in creating a pleasant ambience in these spaces.
Heath Ledger Auditorium
The Heath Ledger Auditorium required careful integration of lighting, architecture and theatrical function to ensure appropriate light was provided both to the seating areas and to the acoustic sails which are the dominant architectural feature of the space.Â Lighting to the area under the balcony is achieved using discrete downlights that conceal the light source to prevent glare. The walls of the stalls and upper circle are lit with a regular spacing of concealed downlights which incorporate frosted lenses to optimise performance.Â The lighting to the seating is supplemented with theatrical lighting to the accoustic sails which provides light to the volume of the space and model the sails in all dimensions. The theatrical luminaires can create a variety of look on the sails, with changeable colour filters and gobos, to complement the occasion or performance.Â Ease of maintenance of lighting in the theatre is imperative. The down-lighting fixtures are accessible from the catwalks via a clever custom-designed outreach arm which retracts to the catwalk for maintenance.
In order to create a flexible space the house lighting to the Underground Studio Theatre is designed not to intrude on the performance lighting. The aim of the lighting in this area is to create the sense that the space is lit without patrons being aware of the source of the light. Lighting to the Studio is designed using discrete downlights mounted within the acoustic panels to the underside of the catwalks. It was imperative to keep house lighting away from the areas reserved for theatre lighting. These downlights produce minimal glare and are controlled in groups to allow flexible use of the space. Lighting around the perimeter of the space is achieved using similar downlights to provide light to the walkways at the upper level.
KHA has designed a unique Flytower that has a day time appearance that blends with the sky, reflecting the prevailing sky conditions, and a nighttime appearance of a fabulous glowing box. This is achieved with a false outer skin created with a diffuse faÃ§ade material that is offset from the solid concrete walls forming the tower; internally illuminated with powerful metal halide projectors in the faÃ§adeâ€™s interstitial layer.
Exterior features include a square courtyard with covered balconies on all sides that doubles as a performance space and central gathering area. A small grove of up-lit trees softens the space on the entrance side of the courtyard and the opposite side is backed by the glowing facade of the Flytower.Â The colonnade around the courtyard is lit with IP rated, narrow-beam downlights mounted in the soffit immediately behind the columns. This cast shadows of the columns into the centre of the courtyard, yielding an interesting pattern and play of light to the ground plane.
The State Theatre of Western Australia offers the city of Perth a landmark building dedicated to building cultural capital in the State. As a specialised and destination facility, it poses particular challenges to the lighting design that Electrolight and the wider design team have worked hard to meet and resolve. An inspiring combination of artificial and natural light has resulted from a collaborative approach with architects and design team. Already nominated for the Premierâ€™s Award for Interior Design Excellence & Innovation, KHAâ€™s beautiful theatre will stand proudly on the worldâ€™s stage for years to come.
Posted by: Maja Apih