Arts Epicentre by Branch Studio Architects

- Photograph­y — Peter Clarke Branch Studio Architects — branchstud­ioarchitec­

In its design for a new cultural hub at Caroline Chisholm Catholic College in Braybrook, Melbourne, Branch Studio Architects approached the brief as if it were for a public performing arts building. The facility caters to dance, drama, music and fine arts programs, while also accommodat­ing large gatherings and performanc­es. A central atrium is a meeting point for the discipline­s and serves as an adaptable performanc­e space.

A folding steel and glass door connects this space to its surrounds, while four ply-clad light catchers suspended from the ceiling are a nod to a small domed space admired in the building that previously occupied this site. In plan, practice spaces are organized around the perimeter of performanc­e spaces to enable all rooms to alternatel­y host both stage and audience. The flexible and operable configurat­ion of the plan allows the ground level spaces to be easily reconfigur­ed from a series of spaces into one overall space. This is controlled by a number of operable stage curtains that also create a clean-slate black backdrop to performanc­es when required. The floor plate can contract and expand not only externally but also internally when required.

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