An inspiring space for tomorrow's artists: John Bray Centre for Performing Arts, St John's Grammar (SA)

Published: Monday 30 July 2018

The creative arts play an important part in school and community life so it was a great pleasure to visit St John’s to see their new Performing Arts Centre designed by Dan Galut and Mee Kyong Kim from Walter Brooke Architects.

Their attention to detail and their understanding of the needs of the school and planned community use has resulted in an attractive but intimate space which blends the heritage with the new buildings.

John Bray, a school council member and long time associate and supporter of the school spoke of the importance of providing a quality building which serves the school and its local community and hopes it will be used to provide the local community with events linked to the Guitar Festival, the Cabaret Festival, the Festival of Arts or the Fringe.

The John Bray Centre for Performing Arts is a new learning environment that enabled students to develop confidence and skills in all aspects of theatre, music and drama. It was fundamental for the school to provide a new facility that supports contemporary teaching and learning principles to compliment the school’s vision for Music and the Arts.

Walter Brooke developed the design for the new performing arts centre east of a state heritage building; Retreat House. The two-storey building contains a 119 seat capacity auditorium with a full sized stage, music practice rooms, music theory room and green rooms, general learning areas, stage, and kitchenette on the ground floor and bio box on the first floor.

The new ‘music courtyard’ located between the new building and the existing Retreat House was created as an active focal point for outdoor concerts, performances, school community gatherings and events.

Brickworks Building Products were used to great effect to produce light and luminescence as well as acoustic qualities.  Careful composition and detailing of the building elements complement the artistic nature of the new facility.  The form and use of materials of the new building are sympathetic to the heritage building‘s built form and material palette. Passive design principle has been implemented through extensive use of sunshade, screen elements and high performance glass.

The building has been recognised with several awards. Sarah Constructions received a high commendation from the 2018 AIB Professional Excellence in Building Awards for constructions up to $5 million while the South Australian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects awarded it the Dr John Mayfield Award for Educational Architecture.

Article: Ann Gorey

Photos: Sam Noonan