The Hedberg Hobart, Tasmanian Performing and Creative Arts Building, Australian Cultural Centre, Architecture Images
The Hedberg in Tasmania
2 July 2022
Design: LIMINAL Studio with WOHA
Location: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Photos: Natasha Mulhall, Dianna Snape Photography and Patrick Bingham-Hall
The Hedberg, Tasmania
Located in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, The Hedberg vision is to present a culturally significant performing and creative arts destination that galvanises the creative heart of Hobart and fuels Tasmania’s cultural offering in a global and contemporary context.
In 2013, Hobart-based LIMINAL Architecture, with Singapore-based WOHA, were awarded the internationally competitive bid to deliver this culturally significant building. The result is a cultural place of ceremony, merging ancient traditions with modern innovations.
The development includes professional music and performance hubs, world-class performance venues, a new home for the Conservatorium of Music, creative workshop laboratories, integration of the two-storey heritage-listed Hedberg Garage, universal accessibility to all levels of the historic Theatre Royal for the first time and cutting-edge technologies facilitating local and global exchange.
The Hedberg could not have happened anywhere else or on any other site. The building is informed by its cultural and community contexts. The design encapsulates a people-focused intimacy, relevancy and scale and celebrates the role the built environment plays in deepening an understanding of place that inspires cultural and creative immersion for its users, practitioners, performers, educators, producers, musicians, students, visitors and patrons. It presents, a festival in a building.
The Hedberg tells stories of the past, overlaid with aspirations for the future. The design strategy evokes a sense of the theatrical activities inside. The external expression is influenced by the minimalist and dancing forms in contemporary music notation. The cladding suggests a shimmering theatrical curtain being pulled open to reveal the warmth within. The exterior sparkle takes its cue from the opalescence of Tasmanian abalone shells, traditionally used to carry fire, acknowledging the significance of fire in cultural exchange and the role it continues to play as the original natural ‘theatre’ for storytelling.
The urban compositional strategies balance the scale of the new building with the heritage buildings by visually separating them, using glass lobby spaces as connections between the inward-looking performance spaces.
“Even though its volumetric requirements are far greater than those of adjacent heritage buildings, the project’s design is contextual and well mannered. It appreciates and exposes elements that define the heritage significance of the site while satisfying contemporary requirements,” said Elvio Brianese, LIMINAL Architecture co-founding Director.
“As part of the heritage strategy, we used materials that are modern but harmonise with the masonry, sandstone and brick of the historical buildings. We wanted The Hedberg to feel more like a cluster of buildings on the city block, than a huge performing arts building that overwhelms the modest-scale heritage structures” says Richard Hassell, co-founding director of WOHA.
In the site’s evolution, The Hedberg adds a contemporary layer that ensures the heritage buildings that abut and exist on the site, experience longevity through adaptive reuse. The heritage strategy interweaves interpretive layers into the built fabric as salvaged materials and archaeological fragments found onsite are reused or presented in panels to reflect stories within stories. This conservation, reuse, interpretation and revelation achieves sustainability.
“The ‘fabric’ of the building externally and internally provides interpretative layers of the past re-presented through a contemporary lens heightening the story-telling potential of the building,” said Peta Heffernan, LIMINAL Architecture co-founding Director.
In the professional performing arts context, its progressiveness is also represented by acoustic versatility. The design incorporates a full range of acoustic variables from natural and traditional methods such as absorptive moveable banners, curtains, diffusive panels and reflectors to electronic acoustic enhancement options, that can change and be activated without changing the visual appearance of the space. This enables the performance to be free of distraction, preserving the mystic of theatre, without the visual ‘cue’ that can dilute the immersive potential as it shifts from a singular musician to a rock band.
The electronic acoustic enhancement system can also make the 350 seat Ian Potter Recital Hall ‘sound’ like an auditorium that can seat 700 plus people. This versatility in an intimate venue allows for a full spectrum of music genres that typically would not be able to be accommodated. Maximum impact and opportunity are created with minimal means as for the cost of a small auditorium, the acoustic experience can be equivalent to the grandest auditorium in the world.
The convivially collaborative relationship between LIMINAL Architecture and WOHA was a first and allowed design concepts to push past boundaries of what would have previously or individually possible. The result is a precinct that is deeply aware of its cultural and community context together with an understanding of its unique and well-deserved place on the global stage.
‘Can I offer our deep thanks to LIMINAL Studio, our Hobart-based architects, who – in the spirit of collaboration – invited Singapore-based WOHA to work with them on this project, and which resulted in this remarkable finely textured and storied building. They themselves are poets of space who in many ways have created an architectural instrument to be played by the performers here and like a great instrument the performance will be all the finer because of the quality of the stage upon which it is performed’ – Vice Chancellor, University of Tasmania, Professor Rufus Black.
LIMINAL Architecture is internationally awarded and operates as one of the interdisciplinary identities under the LIMINAL Studio banner which also includes LIMINAL Spaces, Objects, and Ideation, known for its collaborative and community-engaging processes. Appointing a local architecture and design studio unlocks local knowledge and allows collaborations with local manufacturers, designers and craftspeople. The result is a uniquely Tasmanian aesthetic that generates ongoing value for Tasmanian businesses as materials and production processes are reimagined and presented in new ways.
WOHA focuses on researching and innovating integrated architectural and urban solutions to tackle the problems of the 21st century such as climate change, population growth and rapidly increasing urbanisation. The practice has accrued a varied portfolio of work and is known for its distinct approach to biophilic design and integrated landscaping. WOHA applies their systems thinking approach to architecture and urbanism in their building design as well as their regenerative masterplans. Their rating system to measure the performance of buildings, as laid out in their book “Garden City Mega City”, has garnered interest internationally and is being adopted into construction policies in several cities.
The Hedberg is funded through a unique partnership between the University of Tasmania, the Australian and Tasmanian Governments and the Theatre Royal, Australia’s oldest and continuously operating theatre.
The Hedberg Cultural Centre in Tasmania, Australia – Building Information
Architect: LIMINAL Studio – https://www.liminalstudio.com.au/
Completion date: 2021
LIMINAL Architecture with WOHA: LIMINAL Studio
Interiors – LIMINAL Spaces with WOHA: LIMINAL Spaces
Landscape Architect: Inspiring Place
Furniture – LIMINAL Objects with Derlot: LIMINAL Objects
Builder: Hansen Yuncken
Building Surveyor: Pitt and Sherry
Archaeology: Austral Tasmania
Civil and Structural Engineering with Gandy and Roberts, Services with JMG and Theatre Planning, Acoustic and Audio Visual and Environmental Sustainability: ARUP
Graphics – LIMINAL Graphics with Holly Webber: LIMINAL Graphics
Heritage Architect: Forward Consultancy
Quantity Surveyor: Matrix Management Group
Safety in Design: Aware 365
Traffic Engineer: Howarth Fisher
Urban Design: Leigh Woolley
Photography: Natasha Mulhall, Dianna Snape Photography and Patrick Bingham-Hall
The Hedberg Cultural Centre, Hobart Tasmania images / information received 020722
Location: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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