Design Friday

Project: Centenary Hall

Practice: Grieve Gillett

Project Location: Goolwa

Completion Date: 2012 




Multifunctional space and heritage don’t always go hand in hand, but an art deco building on the main street of Goolwa does just that.


The Centenary Hall, on Cadell Street, was reopened earlier this year and has hosted several events for the town’s Regional Centre for Culture – Just Add Water 2012 activities.


Built in 1930, it was opened as a picture theatre and was the largest of its kind south of Adelaide, equipped with state of the art sound and projection equipment.




The mayor of what was then known as Goolwa Council, Percy Wells, built and operated the site at his own expense. Over time, the building didn’t keep up with new technology and became a shadow of its former self.


Adelaide architecture firm Grieve Gillett was given the task of refreshing the building into a theatre and community space and Kennett Ptd Ltd was in charge of construction management.


With a $1.5 million budget, the hall needed to handle plays, concerts and community events, and be configured into a standard theatre seating layout or a cabaret style table and chair arrangement.  



Working closely with heritage advisors, the architects paid homage to the site’s original architecture.


“The most obvious homage to the art deco origins of the building is the external colour scheme, using contrasting pastel colours that pick out the geometry of the facades, as was the practice in the 1920s to early 1930s,” Grieve Gillett’s Richard Samulis said.


Recreating the effect of clean-lined grandeur, typical of art deco theatres, the foyer was extended upwards and back into the main hall and geometric uplighting pelmets were installed.     



Acoustically dampening the hall, the upper sections of the walls are covered by retractable velvet curtains, while the mid section has perforated timber panels that conceal a depth of insulation behind. That section also pays homage to the site’s heritage.


Percy Wells purchased a Fotoplayer machine to create sounds to accompany silent movies. It used perforated paper reels, similar to a pianola’s reels, to create music.


“This idea was used as the inspiration for the acoustic panel patterns, which are a representation of the perforated playing pattern for Waltzing Matilda,” Richard said.  


All image credits Kennett Pty Ltd



For previous Design Friday articles, visit the Archive section

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