Feedback sought on $34M upgrade of Sutherland Entertainment Centre

Community feedback is invited up until July 8 on draft plans for a $34 million upgrade of Sutherland Entertainment Centre and adjoining Peace Park.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is assessing the project as a State Significant Development.

After the exhibition closes, the department will review community submissions and feedback from government agencies.

Executive director of regions, Key Sites and Industry, Anthea Sargeant,said community input was "a vital part of the assessment process".

"If approved, the redevelopment will provide new indoor and outdoor stages, exhibition spaces and upgrades to better connect the centre to Peace Park," Ms Sargeant said.

"Our role is to assess the applications in consultation with local people, government agencies and stakeholders, so we are encouraging the community to share their views on this community project."

Mayor Carmelo Pesce, said the refurbishment was "aimed at delivering vastly improved performance, teaching and rehearsal spaces to ensure the much-loved facility remained fit for purpose".

The architects' design statement said the Entertainment Centre "holds an important place in the collective memory of the Sutherland community".

"Designed and built in the 1970s primarily as a musical venue, the then Sutherland Civic Centre relied on an inward focus on its auditorium and a narrow public address to Eton Street," the statement said.

"This was a time when buildings like this relied on a separation between inside and outside and where spaces such as the foyer had only one purpose.

"This was also long before the development of Peace Park to the building's north.

"Fast forward to the present day - what we now find is a 40+ year old building which is in relatively good physical condition.

"Yet, as a modern day public venue, it must cater to a diversity of cultural and technical needs.

"It needs to have a more open outlook and offer more to its community, not only in terms of its relationship with its immediate surrounds but also in relation to its spatial flexibility."

The architects said the refurbishment would "seek to offer a new and more engaging address for the Entertainment Centre by virtue of a more friendly and integrated relationship with Peace Park".

"This speaks to an opportunity to reaffirm Peace Park as the civic heart of Sutherland.

"A place with stronger connections not only to already established civic institutions but also with future developments within the Sutherland Town Centre.

"The discrete spaces within Peace Park such as the War Memorial and the Chuo City Garden function as a series of connected landscape rooms with their own identity and public purpose.

"Accordingly, the Entertainment Centre will feel like it is much more a part of the park and, conversely, the park will also feel as though it is an extension of the building.

"It follows then that where the building and park come together there will be an open and friendly interface.

"The various elements that make up the park should read as extensions of the indoor spaces they serve, so that visually there is no clear delineation between indoors and outdoors.

"To that end we propose an active interface with Peace Park - a verandah - which serves as a connective threshold between park and building and between inside and out, where both the park and building benefit from each other.

"This interface will help mediate the change in level between park and building and provide an at-grade connection between Merton Street and Eton Street.

"The verandah space, with its future opportunity for a cafe / kiosk offering, will activate the park's southern edge and create a more visible and accessible entry for the Entertainment Centre.

"The new foyer will be an extension of this verandah space, envisioned as a new Civic Room or 'pergola', providing a better address for the Entertainment Centre and, in turn, an appropriate public address for the Park to Eton Street.

"In this way it will read clearly as the latest addition to the array of public structures within Peace Park, a structure that belongs as much to the park as the theatre.

"The foyer will encourage and facilitate this interactive potential, able to act as a flexible theatrical space in its own right for a host of less formal events that may not suit the theatre itself.

"It will serve its traditional role as gathering place at performance times but also be a venue for a diverse range of community uses from banquets and exhibitions to intimate musical performances.

"The design of the foyer is therefore the key to achieving this new friendly interface, and the point at which the open unprogrammed spaces of the park merge with the carefully curated events within the theatre.

"The foyer will be designed to provide a vibrant activated space that is a clear and decisive entry point into the SEC facility from the adjoining outdoor forecourt, verandah space and Peace Park.

"The foyer will provide a sense of anticipation for visitors arriving to see a show or participate in the various other activities in the SEC precinct.

"It should provide opportunities to showcase and reflect the cultural vibrancy created within the facility. "

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