Whitehorse Centre Redevelopment – Call for Top Architect

Published: Wednesday 05 Dec 2018

A design competition for the redevelopment of the Whitehorse Centre in Nunawading is expected to attract some of the nation’s top architects.

Whitehorse Mayor Councillor Bill Bennett said planning for the project was well underway and had now reached the exciting design stage.

“Council is transforming the Whitehorse Centre in Nunawading into a highly accessible, flexible and contemporary venue that will meet the diverse and changing needs of our community, users and patrons. The new centre will and provide an expanded array of performing arts, functions and festival opportunities for generations to come,” Cr Bennett said.

The beloved facility has served the community well for over 30 years, attracting over 100,000 attendees and 40,000 festival goers annually. However, now more than 30 years old, it is nearing the end of its functional working life.

Planning for the Whitehorse Centre redevelopment has been well advanced since the project was announced as part of the 2017/18 Budget. This has included recruitment of technical specialists, site planning and documentation, and environmental due diligence of the entire parkland area in which the building sits.

“We are thrilled that planning has now reached the exciting design stage,” the Mayor said.

To achieve the most effective and sustainable outcomes for the project—functionally, operationally and financially—Council will conduct a design competition in the first half of 2019. The competition will bring together some of Australia’s most accomplished architectural minds to propose a new vision for the Whitehorse Centre.

From mid-2019 and throughout 2020 detailed design development will occur with the involvement of key stakeholders and user groups to progress the project to final design. This work will also trigger the appointment of the construction head contractor to deliver this exciting community project. The construction of the new centre and car park will commence in 2021 with an expected opening in late 2023.

“We’ll ensure that the new venue preserves what people most value about the current centre—the warm atmosphere, intimate experience and exceptional customer service—and that it provides many new opportunities for creativity, connection and celebration through the performing arts and family festivals,” Cr Bennett said.

Based on recommendations within the Whitehorse Centre Redevelopment Business Case, the competition will see the development of concept designs that allow for:

  • 600-seat auditorium with larger stage and modern back stage area
  • 200-seat studio theatre enabling smaller scale works
  • multipurpose rehearsal/dance studio
  • multipurpose function room
  • a greatly expanded range of shows, functions and events
  • improved soundshell capability for community festival season
  • multi-deck car park located at the rear of the Nunawading Police Station to accommodate visitors to the Whitehorse Centre, Nunawading Library, Whitehorse Civic Centre and the Walker Park sports precinct.

An estimated 80 per cent of usage will come from community groups and community-based Council programs such as the Whitehorse Centre professional season, midweek matinee season, sports awards and women’s forum, amongst others. 

The Whitehorse Centre will continue to operate throughout 2019. As construction and site planning are confirmed, Council will advise on the closure date of the existing centre and the transition plan for clients and patrons during construction.

For more information, or to sign up to receive project updates, visit www.whitehorsecentre.com.au/whitehorse-centre-redevelopment or contact the project team on whitehorsecentre.redevelopment@whitehorse.vic.gov.au or 9262 6165.

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