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COX Architecture with 3XN Architects, Aileen Sage, Turf Design Studio and Bangawarra to design Riverside Theatres 

COX with 3XN Architects, Aileen Sage, Turf Design Studio and Bangawarra acknowledge the enduring spirit and Peoples of Burramatta Country.

COX Architecture with 3XN Architects, Aileen Sage, Turf Design Studio and Bangawarra has won the international design competition for Riverside Theatres.  

Abbie Galvin LFRAIA, NSW Government Architect and Chair of the Design Excellence Jury said that the design competition provided them the privilege of hearing from the deep and diverse talent in the design industry. She said, “the five submissions each proposed exciting, thoughtful, and highly original designs for this special river site. Thank you to all the design teams who invested their energy and talents with such generosity and to the City of Parramatta Council for running a very professional process. Congratulations to the winning team for their sophisticated and expressive design which has cleverly combined the complex requirements of state-of-the-art performance spaces with a dynamic form that twists, shapes, and modulates to respond to the river and welcomes the community.” 

With a foundation built on established relationships, confidence, and mutual understanding, the design team is driven by a shared vision. This vision will establish the Riverside Theatres as the cornerstone of burgeoning cultural presence within the Central River City.  

“The reimagined Riverside Theatres will be a major uplift in the cultural capacity for Parramatta. Our team of creative collaborators are honoured to be part of this transformative project for the City of Parramatta.” said Joe Agius, Director of COX Architecture, on behalf of the design team.


COX Director, Joe Agius

Guided by a commitment to the location’s First Nations origin and sense of place, our goal was for our design to sensitively respond to both the natural beauty of the river and the site’s city context.

Fred Holt, Director of 3XN Architects, says “the unique contextual response of the design lends itself to a distinct architectural expression and opportunity to create a building that is welcoming, porous, and permeable – framed with gateways of invitation and performative possibility.”

Riverside Theatres Director, Craig McMaster added; “The new Riverside Theatres builds on our venue’s 35-year, award-winning history as a cultural anchor for our community.  Our redevelopment’s incredible new design and facilities will open the door to bringing the best in international and Australian performances directly to audiences from Parramatta and across NSW.  Our project is not just about creating an iconic new building; it’s about creating a true centre for the performing arts in Western Sydney, a space where everyone feels welcomed and inspired and which embodies our commitment to cultural inclusion and creative excellence.” 

COX Director, Brooke Lloyd

Working together, our team developed a design that sought inspiration from a First Nations narrative – from concept through to detail. The design foregrounds this narrative in every instance – each performance space telling this story in a unique way.

Director of Aileen Sage Architects, Isabelle Tolland

The redevelopment of Riverside Theatres has the potential to significantly transform the cultural landscape of Parramatta, celebrating Country, communities and many stories of this place.

Our winning design includes a new 1,500 seat lyric theatre alongside a smaller 424-seat studio theatre and 80-seat cinema. Additionally, the existing playhouse theatre will undergo significant refurbishment into a 760-seat venue. The revitalised riverfront will be a focal point, boasting a vibrant riverside bar and café, improved pedestrian pathways, and extensive new endemic landscaping.  

Committed to sustainability, the design targets a 5-Star Green Star rating, with a focus on reusing existing building materials to minimise environmental impact. The design seeks to remediate and restore the Parramatta landscape and riverbank ecologies to foster thriving biodiverse natural ecosystems.  


Speaking on the project, Lord Mayor of the City of Parramatta, Pierre Esber, said, “Parramatta is already the geographical heart of Sydney, and the redevelopment of Riverside Theatres will create an iconic architectural landmark that honours our First Nations heritage and connects deeply with the cultural fabric of our city.  

Once complete, Riverside Theatres will be a world-class performing arts centre featuring state-of-the-art facilities and enhanced public spaces that will double its capacity and supercharge the City’s night-time and visitor economiesThe reimagined Riverside Theatres will attract talent to Parramatta as we become an epicentre for creativity with our deep roots in arts and culture alongside the new Powerhouse Parramatta. 

It also offers more opportunities for local and international talent to amplify their stories in a soon to be brand new modern theatre.”

Lord Mayor, City of Parramatta, Pierre Esber

Our community will soon have access to a state-of-the-art facility that will attract major Australian works and the best of Broadway, and the West End shows to Parramatta for the first time. 

The design team thanks the City of Parramatta, Riverside Theatres, and the competition design jury for this opportunity to contribute to the cultural and public life of Parramatta and Greater Western Sydney. 

Her Majesty’s Theatre Redevelopment

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Sydney Coliseum Theatre

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Joe Agius

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