WA State Theatre

I went along to the State Theatre open day on Sunday, along with a lot of other architects, tourists and interested sticky-beaks. As much as I wanted to love this building, as I have watched it evolve from the grand viewpoint of the train, I just didn’t feel it. Some elements were great – the timber panelling around the Heath Ledger Theatre is gorgeous (shame it had to be Tasmanian!) and the gold bars suspended from the foyer ceiling provide a beautiful sense of grandeur. Considering how many people were in there and the muggy hot day it was, the space coped quite well with only a minimal amount of floor mounted a/c vents. (Look out for Marilyn impersonators!) And the amount of natural light was really effective, with sunshade blinds and filmed windows. I also actually liked the bare brick flooring of the lower level and the bareness of this floor’s fitout. So what was my problem? Tall poppy syndrome? Perhaps, I’m honestly not quite sure. I think it might be simply the time and day I visited. I think most of us can tell this is going to be a magnificent building at night, with the glowing fly tower and glittering golden facade. It certainly is grand and theatrical, with gold ceiling, gold stairs, gold carpet. But I think during the day it doesn’t really relate as well. Which maybe it never has to, so that is fine. I think I wanted it to relate to Northbridge a bit better, with perhaps a daytime use available (other than the very hot looking bare courtyard) and some more connection to James St and the Cultural Centre. So I guess really my ‘objections’ are with the brief, the architecture itself is really well done – now I’ll just have to go check it out at night to get the proper feeling. Did anyone else go? What did you think?

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18 thoughts on “WA State Theatre

  1. Re: “But I think during the day it doesn’t really relate as well. Which maybe it never has to, so that is fine.”
    I don’t think that’s fine.Why shouldn’t it have to?

    The inside looks pretty good though.

    • Yes, perhaps you’re right. I guess I was just trying to rationalise my feelings on the building – I loved the materials, the sense of space, the natural light, the quality finish, but for some reason I just didn’t feel anything. So a completely subjective response and I have been trying to work out why.

  2. I have to agree on the exterior – the grey concrete look has been popular for a while but could you imagine how interesting this building would look if that were painted in a highly recognisable colour.

    It’s a missed opportunity to make this a true landmark building.

  3. I think if the concrete was treated it would have ruined
    it. It is great as it is. You don’t need to decorate every
    surface!!! I think it would look awful painted. This is a great
    building!

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  5. i agree with john! why jump on every archi trend that passes through perth, painted concrete or worse patterned concrete would have looked passé within the year (if not now!) and ruined the longevity and classic-ness of this building..
    i was so impressed by this building – i think it is by far the best building WA has ever had and we should be jumping for joy and not nit picking. I was so depressed to hear people complain about little things during my visit and not celebrate the fact that finally Perth is upping the ante in terms of quality architecture..the last time I felt this way was moving around the Seattle library and I’m so proud for Perth right now.

  6. I agree with J.Bam. It’s so important for Perth to have highly visible architecture of such a high quality. K Hill does do things on the very minimalist side, but boy they do them well.

    Those who want crazy/colourful/ka-blam architecture have Lyons’ TAFE and soon enough will have ARM’s Arena (God help the talk-back switch operators when the fullness of that design is apparent to the townsfolk!).

    But J.Bam, I would argue that (pre-lightshow) Council House is a superior architectural work…

    • I have to agree also on the exterior, I like the jointed concrete and the minimalism of the finishes, and of course the pattern of mullions / gold tubes at the front . It looks classy and really enhances the grandeur of the interior through the stark difference. Painting or patterning the concrete would have not suited I think. Although I do like that aging copper idea …!

  7. It doesn’t have to be crazy/colourful/ka-blam, that was not what was suggested. But come on, bare concrete as classic-ness giving it longevity? Seriously? We must be looking at a different photograph, because that is not “by far the best building WA has ever had”. Again half arsed has triumphed.

  8. thanks david! i’ve only been inside council house once..and i got lost! trying to find my meeting..so whilst I love the exterior of the building- the way finding was tricky – though that of course could just be due to current management…you’re right – i should visit again.

    and lazy aussie i wasn’t looking at the photograph- I’ve visited and toured the theatre -twice now, and one of the things I loved were all the views everywhere, moving through the building sight lines were continually changing, different aspects of northbridge and the city appearing, and the interiors radically change- standing in one spot at the bar you can look one way and see just light, white and straight lines, turn around and you’re in the lush bronze glamour-puss space again! mr lazy you’re not qualified to comment if you havent even visited!

  9. so the point i was trying to get to (but started waffling a little apologies) is that good architecture is about so much more than aesthetics, its about spaces and movement and light and forms and this building seems to handle all these elements with much more skill than i’ve witnessed in perth in ages.

  10. Well the interior shots look amazing, (apart from the ridiculous Heath picture) as I ave already said. I have seen the exterior many times right through construction until now. I just don’t feel it has any presence from most outside aspects.

    I also don’t buy that bare concrete is the ONLY option that could work, or that any kind of working of the concrete would be either passe, or some kind of current trend. i was standing outside hayman hall at Curtin only minutes after my last comment, and the gouged concrete exterior is superb. it is from the 70’s, so no passing trend, and will look magnificent decades after people are still wondering why the Ledger (puke) thetre wasn’t finished properly.

    It doesn’t have a landmark presence. It just doesn’t, no matter how good the interior is. It actually feels kinda small and insignificant from outside. Really another wasted opportunity for Perth.

    Now Council House. THAT could really have some claim of Perth’s best ever building. Beautiful with a location that just makes it look better.

  11. This is no doubt a great building, but the best Perth has ever had? that is an insult to 180 years of great work! It is a great contemporary building. Lyons TAFE, is a better building I think.
    Regarding its ‘landmark’ status, I think it has it in spades! It is in a highly visible area, with a well put together, recognisable and memorable form. What more does it need?

  12. Agree about it not really relating to Northbridge though I liked the walkway to the Cultural Centre area. It’s really the face to the Horseshoe Bridge that grates. As you say, a locational issue.

    Yes, a tasteful building with the right blend of glitz and intimacy.

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