Cox Architecture designs a multimode theatre inspired by fluid curtains in Sydney

The 2000-seat Sydney Coliseum Theatre is capable of hosting live concerts, musicals, ballet, dramatic theatre, and dance shows among other performances in Western Sydney.

by STIRworld Published on : Aug 07, 2020

The Sydney Coliseum Theatre is a multifunctional performance venue inspired by the fluidity of stage curtains. Designed by Cox Architecture, the privately funded theatre sits in the suburbs of Rooty Hill, Sydney, and is capable of accommodating over 2000 spectators. Located within West HQ precinct - a sector predominantly known for housing entertainment, fitness and lifestyle venues, the theatre further contributes to the cultural hub atmosphere of the city. Featuring a nine-metre proscenium arch and luxurious seating, the Coliseum offers a new standard in comfort and facilities, radiating the regality and grandiosity commensurate of ancient Roman theatres.

The bright interiors of the Sydney Coliseum Theatre | Sydney Coliseum Theatre by Cox Architecture| STIRworld
The bright interiors of the Sydney Coliseum Theatre Image Credit: John Gollings

Conceived to be a versatile space, the theatre brings together legion of events related to the entertainment industry, including musicals, drama, concerts, ballet, contemporary dance, family entertainment and comedy. The performance venue, located at the heart of the building, is designed to allow flexibility and spatial reconfiguration in accordance with the set requirements of the event in question. The event space, served by three foyers and seven bars, holds 1300 fully retractable stall seats in addition to the 2000 seats fixed in position. Moreover, the theatre boasts of on-site commercial kitchens, corporate event spaces and an unforgettable venue for hosting galas.

The atrium with light filtering in through the vertical glass silvers | Sydney Coliseum Theatre by Cox Architecture| STIRworld
The atrium with light filtering in through the vertical glass silvers Image Credit: John Gollings

Drawing inferences from theatrical trappings, the Sydney Coliseum Theatre is designed with a sinuous concrete façade that imitates the fluid and graceful movements of stage curtains. This striking concrete curtain is accentuated through vertical glass silvers hinting at the interior activities awaiting the audience. The monolithic concrete curves glitter by the day, and as the night approaches, allow the performances to exude their glow and illuminate the sky.

Exterior view of the Sydney Coliseum Theatre with its fluid concrete curtain façade | Sydney Coliseum Theatre by Cox Architecture| STIRworld
Exterior view of the Sydney Coliseum Theatre with its fluid concrete curtain façade Image Credit: John Gollings

While the architecture of the Sydney Coliseum Theatre reflects the grandeur of scale and opulence in character, this has not been achieved through superfluous ornamentation or intricate detailing but by exercising stoic simplicity in design and a restrained material palette. The theatre employs three primary building elements – timber, terrazzo and plaster, “the honest and unpretentious materiality” ensuring that it suits the needs of everyone and any occasion.

The central performance space with its fixed and retractable seating and timber envelope | Sydney Coliseum Theatre by Cox Architecture| STIRworld
The central performance space with its fixed and retractable seating and timber envelope Image Credit: John Gollings

The Coliseum, in its form, sequence, and atmosphere, accounts for an innate theatricality to the design experience. The interior foyer features a bespoke chandelier made up of 241 strands of thousands of crystals. A sweeping stairway adds a symphonic quality to the interiors, connecting the layered atrium whilst building up anticipation before the delivery of the performance. Ribbons of timber envelope the central volume, creating dark interior environment that is in dramatic contrast to the shimmering white façade and terrazzo flooring outside of the performance space.

The sweeping stairway bridging the layered atrium | Sydney Coliseum Theatre by Cox Architecture| STIRworld
The sweeping stairway bridging the layered atrium Image Credit: John Gollings

Cox Architecture has given considerable importance to the conceptual narrative of project with an emphasis on transcendence and spatial sequencing. Carefully choreographing the journey of the audience from the external world to the interiors of the performance spaces, the Sydney Coliseum Theatre is sure to leave a lasting impression.

(Text by Saamia Makharia, an intern at stirworld.com)

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