The Winner

ARM's winning design animation

ONE OF Australia’s leading creative design firms has won the right to deliver a striking cultural precinct for the Gold Coast.

ARM Architecture took the honours from 75 Stage One entries worldwide, and three Stage Two teams shortlisted in the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct Design Competition.

Other shortlisted teams were local/international consortium of CRAB_VOGT_DBI and Japan’s largest architectural firm, Nikken Sekkei.

The winning design was chosen unanimously by an eight-member independent Design Competition jury and announced on 21 November 2013.

Hailed by jurors as ‘playful and inclusive’, the design promises to entice residents and visitors to experience and participate in production of arts and culture on the Gold Coast.

Read the full media release here.

Winner - ARM Architecture

The team

Team leaders, Melbourne-based national and international architectural firm ARM Architecture, is responsible for many of Australia’s best-known cultural projects, including Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance Visitor Centre, Melbourne Theatre Company, Canberra’s National Museum of Australia and Perth Arena.

ARM is partnered with landscape architects TOPOTEK1 (Berlin), theatre planners Shuler Shook (US and Melbourne), acoustic engineers Marshall Day (Melbourne), sustainability and engineering consultants Arup (global), museum and exhibition designers Cunningham Martyn Design (Melbourne) and indigenous and cultural consultants Duncan Gibbs and Michael Aird (Gold Coast).

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The Design


Playful and inclusive, ARM Architecture’s winning design promises to entice residents and visitors to experience and participate in a new platform for the Gold Coast’s rich and distinctive arts and cultural life.

ARM presents a design which embraces the city’s egalitarian and celebratory character while cleverly addressing the city’s evolving cultural facility needs.

It adopts the dynamic and generative principles of a voronoi diagram, to establish a distinctive and memorable pattern language. This web-like theme recognises that the evolution of the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct will not be a single project that develops in one swoop, but a series of progressive stages encompassing adaptive reuse of existing assets as well as the construction of new facilities which will be brought together over time.

This pattern – its DNA -  organises and connects elements across the entire Cultural Precinct. It creates a delightful, lyrical landscape of soft and built forms that vary in scale from the grand and voluminous to the modest and intimate, capturing the Gold Coast’s playful and energetic spirit and allowing for a diversity of experiences, from opera to skateboarding, contemporary art, fashion and design and cinema.

A quirky, twisting 12-storey New Arts Museum will rise from the landscape as a beacon of Gold Coast arts and culture. An exterior walkway spirals up the building to a roof lounge with panoramic views of the wider Gold Coast landscape from the hinterland to the sea. This tower form will be unique and distinctive among art museums worldwide, offering visitors many ways to both physically and emotionally connect with the artworks on display. It will also help to liberate ground space contributing to a net increase of open green and waterplay spaces throughout the precinct. In turn, this outdoor Artscape is envisaged to grow into a world leading subtropical pleasure garden.

The existing Arts Centre building will be expanded and wrapped within a voronoi superstructure to create the new Living Arts Centre for performing arts and cinema. New facilities within will include a 1200-seat state-of-the-art theatre and a renovation of the existing theatre.Centre stage on the site will be a large external amphitheatre that will provide a spectacular and effective outdoor venue.

The concept blends playful possibilities of the landscape with more serious site-specific environmental solutions, with development a new watercourse and underground spaces that can be flooded; harvesting of energy by a variety of solar systems and water collection and re-use throughout the site.The design  addresses the complex requirements of movement and circulation, managing separation of pedestrians, cars and service vehicles.

A dual, spiral helix green bridge to Chevron Island separates pedestrian and cycle movements linking to the possibility of a deck car park on Council land behind Thomas Drive – a potentially beneficial strategy to activate this growing retail area, which, in turn, forms a mid-point attractor between the light rail and Surfers Paradise and the Cultural Precinct.

Read the full Jury Report Here

Shortlisted team - Nikken Sekkei

The team

Japan’s largest architectural firm, Nikken.JP (Tokyo) is partnered with landscape architects Earthscape (Tokyo) and art museum managers Mori Art Museum (Japan) to form the core team. Nikken Sekkei’s many cultural projects include Japan’s Hoki Museum, Pola Museum and Hyogo Performing Arts Centre.

Additional expertise will be sought through a support team including civil engineers Nikken Sekkei Civil, sustainability consultants Nikken Sekkei Research Institute, and Brisbane architects Lambert and Smith and quantity surveyors Mitchell Brandtman (Australia).

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The Design


Nikken Sekkei’s striking design reflects the ‘web of water’ which defines both the Gold Coast and surrounds the cultural precinct site.

The web is incorporated, both dramatically and subtly, into the submission’s landscape and built forms. Most spectacularly, a grand ‘water stage’, with dimensions of 195.9m x 195.9m, celebrates the founding year of the Gold Coast in 1959.

These twin references, of the city’s founding date and the ubiquitous presence of water – shimmering, flowing, falling – celebrate the site’s location and its coastal character. They come together in a bold and arresting landmark statement.

Centrally located, the water stage links three landscape zones; nature park to the north, water front to the north east, and the civic field to the south west. A series of smaller landscapes are created as sub-divisions of these three primary zones, such as a rain forest, grass land, water garden and indigenous garden.Dual approaches from a Chevron Island green bridge deliver visitors either to ground-level or the elevated water stage.The five senses of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste are engaged across the site.

The water stage doubles as a multi-purpose performance venue and promenade, offering arresting views of the city skyline and hinterland. Depth of water is cleverly controlled, ranging from only a few centimetres deep to dry, providing opportunities for small and large performance spaces to emerge. It also mirrors a typical ‘Queenslander’ roof, offering protective shade to the central amphitheatre below.

Both the New Arts Museum, in the form of small, separated pods, and the Living Arts Centre are also partially nestled below the water stage.

In the Living Arts Centre the existing building is retained and enhanced, with two theatres connected by a shared stage accommodating up to 1800 people. At night, its wrapped fly tower, protruding through the water stage becomes a digital screen for outdoor cinema or illumination.

An holistic approach is taken to precinct programming, with the whole site treated as a museum. The covered amphitheatre provides opportunities for mixed programming, with potential for audience viewing both under and on top of the Water Stage.

Read the full Jury Report Here

Shortlisted team - CRAB_Vogt_DBI

The team

This team creates a local and international architectural alliance between respected Gold Coast-based DBI design and global architectural firm CRAB Studio (London). Landscape architecture will be led by Zurich based VOGT. CRAB is among the most recognisable names in global architecture and is known locally for its design of the nearly completed Soheil Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University.

The team will also partner with structural engineers Bollinger and Grohmann (Frankfurt), sustainability consultants Max Fordham (London), acoustic consultants Marshall Day (Melbourne), theatre consultants Theatreplan (London), urban informatics Arup (Sydney), light installation artist Bruce Munro (UK), lighting designer Andre Tammes; and a support team of Gold Coast-based companies: GMP quantity surveyors, Habitat ecological engineers, AECOM transport, building and acoustic consultants, UPS urban planning, CERTIS accessibility consultant, Robert Bird structural engineer and TDLD lighting consultants.

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The Design


Clustered around a central axis, CRAB_Vogt_DBI have assembled a village of fluid forms, ranging in scale from modest to monumental.

This axis, defined as the great terrace, frames the view on arrival, of the river and city skyline and represents a beguiling and sculptural presence on the site. Structural volumes are carved out to create a series of vaults, arches and scooped out undercrofts.

Apparent gravity-defying cantilevers thus created, serve the dual purpose of protecting visitors from the elements while creating a theatrical spatial setting for the heart of the Cultural Precinct. In the context of the Gold Coast, with its blue skies and deep shadows, these forms promise great potential to generate poetic, transient shadow plays on the surface of the buildings.

Similarly, inspired deployment of real-time informatics and projections serve to transform the buildings into large-scale digital canvases, with particularly remarkable opportunities for dramatic night-time illumination.

Alongside these large dominant forms, small and incidental buildings and shelters are proposed across and beyond the site, establishing a dynamic tension between large and small, formal and informal, institutional and ‘ad hoc’. This approach provides for the precinct’s potential staging and changing uses, and suggests rich potential for engagement with local creative communities. The design’s informal elements, including its ‘confetti of kiosks’ that appear dotted across to Surfers Paradise, provide opportunities for one-off and small scale participation by individual artists and creative producers.

At the fulcrum of these built forms lies the Great Terrace, intended as a large, open-air room. To the east of the terrace is an open amphitheatre looking out to a water stage. To the west the terrace leads diagonally to the corner of Bundall Road and Crombie Avenue.

A meandering river is introduced, delineating the core cultural precinct area from a zone for potential partnership development on adjacent land abutting Bundall Road.Many built assets are retained and a staged approach invests early in an arts walk from Surfers Paradise, linking up to the Artscape.

Two innovative ‘car pads’, doubling as programmed spaces for a range of community and arts activities, are incorporated into the overall landscape. Shared loading and other efficiencies are pragmatic responses to operational needs.A dense, wetland forest dominates the concept’s landscape theme with a thickened edge to the water.

Thoughtful sustainable innovations include a considered approach to shading, diurnal cooling, thermal massing, and waste water processing, as well as outdoor evaporative cooling using seawater walls and evapo-transpiration cooling using the principles of the oasis.

Read the full Jury Report Here