The Concourse

The Concourse

Chatswood is the third largest retail centre in Australia, behind the Sydney and Melbourne CBDs. It is dominated by large, internalised retail complexes and intense retail activity. It was into this context that the City of Willoughby decided to make a public place devoted to creativity, learning and debate as a relief to the compulsion to purchase. After over ten years of debate and intense consultation which culminated in a popular vote, the project for a civic place was realised. A public open space, where there is no pressure to purchase, is at the centre of a complex of artistic performance venues, library and community function rooms — The Concourse.
The complex was conceived as an organic sculptural form opening, embracing, and defining a new public place that is raised on a stone platform. Ribbons of polished aluminium wrap and enclose the timber-lined performance venues, creating silent surfaces amid the noise of retail and opening the foyer spaces to the street and square through filtering brise-soleils of plywood.

Below these hovering ribbons that hold the concert hall and theatre volumes, the other facilities are accommodated within the terraces and platforms of the stone podium. This stone base is an interpretation of the stone ridge that stretches from the city into the northern suburbs, which formed the spine of settlement.

The lowering of many of the facilities under the podiums resolved a series of challenging brief requirements and the overshadowing issues of southern orientation. The built form, which could have occupied the full footprint of the site many times over, offers over 5,000 square metres of accessible open space with significantly improved northerly aspect.

One of the largest and busiest municipal libraries in Australia is also achieved on a single level.

The Concourse consists of a matrix of interwoven performing-arts facilities. Vastly contrasting functional requirements work harmoniously and in close proximity to each other, including a 1,000-seat concert hall, a 500-seat theatre, rehearsal spaces, exhibition, multi-purpose hall and function rooms.

The concert hall is conceived as a “boat-like” interior of timber “floating” in a dark spot-lit space where the focus is on the performance stage within a “sea” of sound.

The theatre provides a venue to foster the local performing arts communities. It provides professional full-stage and fly-tower facilities and the seating stretches around and above the stage such that the audience embraces the performers.

Most important has been the creation of a true public space that is now the focus for the civic and cultural ceremonies and events of the people of Willoughby.

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fjcstudio acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres  Strait Islander peoples, the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work.

We recognise their continuing connection to Country and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

We extend this acknowledgement to Indigenous People globally, recognising their human rights and freedoms as articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.