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The Art of Architecture: COX Performance Venues

Performing arts transport us. From a seat amongst many, audiences are taken across time and space. Performance can change our mood, having us experience a series of feelings all within one show. It involves you – and the architecture that houses these moments must do the same.

At COX, we see performance venues as a space where audiences can separate from the outside world and immerse themselves in the story. A place where they can be emotionally moved by the quality of the space, but that doesn’t take away from the power of the act.

Successful performance venues permit multiple uses of one space – allowing for optimum community and public interaction. Landscape plays an important role in the planning and resulting navigation of these venues. This combination ensures an environment for the arts, meant for the arts, and not for any exclusive one.

COX Director, Brooke Lloyd

Our performance venues are for everyone, from ballet lovers to rock enthusiasts

Across the nation, COX performance venues differ in scale and aesthetic, but all apply to their local environment and community needs. Albeit each is different from the next, they are bound by the same ethos – to enhance the public life of our cities. We endeavour to do this by ensuring every project makes a positive contribution to its public realm – that it gives more than it takes.

Three recently completed projects embody this, The Sydney Coliseum Theatre, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Adelaide, and the Cairns Performing Arts Centre.

The Sydney Coliseum Theatre, West HQ

The Sydney Coliseum, Sydney’s newest theatre located at Rooty Hill, draws onlookers and patrons into the grandeur and drama of the theatre experience.

Featuring striking, opulent architecture, the 2000-seat multi-mode Sydney Coliseum is made up of 3 foyers, 7 bars and a bespoke chandelier that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Located within the buzzing dining, accommodation and entertainment precinct of West HQ, the theatre marks a cultural hub for the area.

To earn the coliseum title, and the grandiosity that comes with it, this venue had to be designed as a truly world-class space. It is capable of hosting musicals, dramatic theatre, concerts, ballet, contemporary dance, family entertainment and comedy. Not limited to this, the theatre also boasts an on-site commercial kitchen, corporate event rooms, conference spaces and more.

Australian Interior Design Awards Jury Citation

Sydney Coliseum Theatre is an exemplar public design project. It has a clear and concise gesture in the grand sculptural stair that connects all the interior spaces, embodying the idea of performance. This principal circulation space anticipates the joy, spectacle and magic of the theatre and the design elevates the experience. A true journey is to be had by patrons, as they move through this open area, which is flooded with natural light from the ribbon windows during the day and is more ambient at night. An element of drama is added to the experience via the contrasting darkness of the theatre.

Her Majesty’s Theatre

Her Majesty’s Theatre, constructed in 1913, is Adelaide’s oldest continually operating performance venue. Described upon opening as ‘the most luxuriously appointed theatre in Australia,’ ‘Her Maj’ is the last surviving example of the Tivoli chain of theatres in Australia.

In the 60s and 70s, redevelopments removed some original architectural features and lowered the seating capacity to 900.

COX was engaged in 2017 to redevelop the theatre to meet the needs of a dynamic and evolving arts industry. The community has long been calling for bigger shows with increased seating, improved back of house facilities, and better integration within the bustling market and Victoria Square precinct.

The theatre now features a 1467-seat auditorium and brought back the notorious grand circle after its removal over 50 years ago. The heritage façade and eastern wall were preserved, adding a new west wing with a striking glass facade. Bold balconies, pressed metal ceiling and architraves have been reinstated, paying homage to the original 1960s Edwardian plans.

ABC Adelaide Evenings Presenter, Peter Goers

The gods have returned to Her Majesty’s Theatre in Grote St. The completely new theatre within two heritage-listed walls (including the grand facade) is magnificent. It now returns to its original design of three tiers including the gods, or highest seats. Thank Gods …This brand-new theatre is a triumph and a gift to all South Australians. It shows us what we can do.

Cairns Performing Arts Centre

The Cairns Performing Arts Centre and associated Parklands is the key new Civic offering for the culturally rich city of Cairns in North Queensland. The design responds to the city’s dramatic Tropical setting.

The building is part of a Cultural Precinct with Munro Martin Parklands which combined delivers a main Proscenium Arch theatre of 950 seats, a 400 seat Flexible Studio and an external Performance Amphitheatre with capacity for 3,000.

The project reflects a commitment to both residents and the broader region with links to the Torres Strait and the Islands of the Pacific Rim.

Performance is integral to indigenous cultures in North Queensland and CPAC provides a support network for emerging talent, vocations in drama and for touring performances.

Bob Manning, Cairns Mayor

CPAC has significantly expanded the city’s capacity to host a wide range of performances and will offer a better venue for local artists. This building is a milestone in achieving our vision for Cairns to be recognised as the arts and cultural capital of Northern Australia. This strategy will change the soul and the character of our city and is a key step in advancing the evolution and progress of our city.

Sydney Coliseum Theatre | Interiors

Rooty Hill, New South Wales

Her Majesty’s Theatre Redevelopment

Adelaide, South Australia

Her Majesty’s Theatre Redevelopment | Interiors

Adelaide, South Australia

Melville Senior High School Theatre

Melville, Western Australia

Cairns Performing Arts Centre

Cairns, Queensland

PLC Performing Arts Centre

Burwood, Victoria

Sydney Coliseum Theatre

Rooty Hill, New South Wales

Cairns Convention Centre

Cairns, Queensland