LIMINAL Architecture with WOHA
Consolidating an important urban nexus of Hobart, Tasmania, The Hedberg vision presents a culturally significant performing and creative arts destination and education precinct that fuels Tasmania’s cultural offering in a contemporary global context.
Co-located with the Theatre Royal, the oldest operating theatre in Australia, The Hedberg integrates a thriving music and performance hub that is fuelled by the provision of multiple bespoke performance venues, a cutting edge recording suite, cascading foyers and roof decks stimulating engagement and performance opportunities, front and back of house support spaces, creative workshop laboratories, rehearsal spaces, integration of the heritage-listed Hedberg Garage and universal access to all levels of the Theatre Royal for the first time. Digital and new media technologies facilitate local and global collaborations and exchange.
The push and pull of form responds to the rhythm and scale of the urban context and heritage precinct, with the glazed main entry anchoring the corner of the building, responding to the heritage buildings’ scale bookending the development. The cladding provides a neutral backdrop to the texture, colour and detail of the heritage buildings; its reflectivity de-materialises the mass reflecting its surrounds and shifts with the time of day and season. Scaling devices amplify the visual independence of the heritage buildings while creating a soft urban edge, humanising the building’s scale in the public realm.
The design strategy evokes a sense of the theatrical activities inside. The cladding suggests a shimmering theatrical curtain, the exterior sparkle takes its cue from the opalescence of 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.
Interpretive layers are interwoven into the built fabric as salvaged materials and archaeological fragments found onsite are exposed, reused, integrated into floor finishes, tracing footprints of the past or presented as sculptural forms in wall panels to reflect stories within stories. The Hedberg adds a contemporary layer to the site’s evolution, translating stories of the past overlayed with aspirations of the future, deepening an understanding of place.
The project was delivered through a partnership between the University of Tasmania, the Theatre Royal and the Tasmanian and Australian governments.
Furniture: Derlot, Simon Ancher, Cult, Interstudio. Lighting: Various. Finishes: Various. Fittings & Fixtures: Various.
Photography: Natasha Mulhall.