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Gippsland Performing Arts Centre in Victorian Architecture short list

Traralgon’s Gippsland Performing Arts Centre, or GPAC, has made the regional prize shortlist in the 2023 Victorian Architecture Awards. Source: LaTrobe Valley Express

The awards program celebrates the top architectural outcomes across the state, spanning categories of public architecture, sustainable architecture, interior architecture and more.

This year’s shortlist includes some standout projects in Gippsland and its surrounds, including Gippsland Performing Arts Centre – ‘a landmark 750-seat centre informed by the deep, sometimes unheralded affinity for the performing arts that exist in regional Australian life’.

Shortlisted in the regional prize category, Architect’s Jackson Architecture and Katsieris Origami: Architects in Association worked together to create a welcoming gathering space for the community.

The pair’s vision was to connect the past, present and future by drawing on the Valley’s rich timber history for construction.

“In partnership with local industry, creates an exemplary precinct of iconic timber construction. It showcases a new era of engineered timber capability, imagination, production and construction in the Latrobe Valley and Traralgon,” Jackson Architecture posted on its website.

The Victorian Architecture Awards enables public and peer recognition of the innovative work of the institute’s members and promotes architects and architecture across Victoria and Australia.

The Gippsland Performing Arts Centre is the centrepiece of the Latrobe Creative Precinct on Kay Street, Traralgon. The precinct cost amounted to $38.5 million, with $10 million each from the state and federal governments and $18.5 million from Latrobe City Council.

The design of the Performing Arts Centre combines a performance facility with the attributes of a Country Hall. In recognition of the region’s rich history of timber manufacturing, the design uses local timber from Australia Sustainable Hardwoods in Heyfield. The entry hall expresses this with tree-like, mass-timber columns supporting the roof, mimicking that of a forest. The design also promotes community engagement by modifying existing buildings and the outdoor space to create a new public realm.

The project creates a dynamic and exciting precinct through its unique architectural design, establishing Traralgon as the significant cultural hub in the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland region.

Mayor of Latrobe City Council Kellie O’Callaghan congratulated the firms on their work, and said GPAC had, in a short space of time, become a landmark feature in Traralgon.

“It is a community-informed design, one where we had to give a lot of consideration to what was the history of the precinct and what it had been used for, but also what the communities’ expectations were,” she said.

“The use of Gippsland timber was a real priority for us when we designed and built the facility, it’s pretty hard for anyone to miss those beautiful tree-like columns that support the structure at the front of the building, and it’s also a bit of a talking point for the community to reflect on local industry and what it means when we create these significant pieces of community infrastructure.

“We are really proud to be able to see the community has enjoyed it so much but also to be able to see that recognition from an architecture perspective; we certainly think it’s a beautiful building, but we’re biased, but it’s great to see that there’s a potential for recognition of this beautiful community inspired piece of architecture that sits in the CBD of Traralgon.”