Ian Potter Southbank Centre by John Wardle Architects | THE PLAN
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Ian Potter Southbank Centre (IPSC)

John Wardle Architects

Ian Potter Southbank Centre by John Wardle Architects | THE PLAN
By John Wardle Architects -

Located in the arts precinct in the heart of Melbourne and opened in early 2019, the Ian Potter Southbank Centre (IPSC) is a purpose-built music conservatorium and the centerpiece of the University of Melbourne’s Southbank campus. Carrying a small footprint, it is organized vertically as a compact eight level tower and aims to balance the singular concentration required of students with the camaraderie of engaging with others. The IPSC encourages curiosity and interaction between the musicians and their community. Large windows with acoustic glazing create visual connections between main spaces while maintaining acoustic isolation. The venue aims to encourage an acoustic environment that is alive with energy and that allows the sounds of learning and practice to permeate through into the common spaces. Small practice rooms are located around the perimeter of the building providing each with natural daylight and expansive views across the city. Simultaneously, the concrete façade folds away from the building offering glimpses of activity within. Breakout spaces afford opportunities to take a break from intense practice, to either reflect on one's own, or engage in conversation. There are a number of spaces that provide a setting for informal performance. Each room has specialized fit-for-purpose or flexible features designed to control key acoustic measures. Ceiling heights have been specified to create room volumes which will reduce sound level exposure while retaining a suitably lively acoustic impression. The design allows for flexibility in the life of the building with modular acoustic treatments that allow easy changes as the functions of the rooms are evolving. The acoustic experience of each of the large rehearsal spaces is in part defined by the interior surfaces. Each surface is lined, textured and patterned to appropriately absorb and reflect the sound. The sensory experience is made complete through the visual appearance of each of these spaces - in one way or another, the warmth of timber creates an intimate performance setting. All the large rehearsal spaces are box-in-box construction, to void the transfer of external noise into the space, and the transfer of noise between spaces - not least the noisy tram route just outside the building. Box-in-box construction is a vibration isolated structure which is built within a structurally massive concrete box and provides high-quality recording environments within the three large performance spaces.  Hanson Dyer Hall cantilevers dramatically over the park below to frame an external performance space, the fourth performance space. Here is a place outside the walls of the conservatorium for performance, both impromptu and organized, unscripted or scripted. It draws music into the public realm, creating a social space owned by the students. 
This building celebrates the activities of rehearsal and practice - it is the “green room” of Melbourne’s arts precinct. Performances will take place within the building, yet it is not a concert hall. The working interior is designed specifically to support the daily life of the conservatorium - robust, informal and playful. The building includes three major vertically stacked venues.

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Client and Owner: The University of Melbourne
Completion: 2019
Gross Floor Area: 9,700 m2
Usable Floor Area: 6,550 m2
Architecture Practice:  John Wardle Architects
Costs: 109,000,000 AUD
Architect: John Wardle Architects
Design Team: John Wardle, Stefan Mee, Meaghan Dwyer, Andy Wong, Kah-Fai Lee, Stephen Georgalas, Megan Marks, Minnie Cade, Alan Ting, James Loder, Jeff Arnold, Barry Hayes, Tom Denham, Alexandra Morrison, Clare Porter, Ariani Anwar, Daniel Sykes, Sharon Crabb, Kristina Levenko, Adrian Bonaventura, Tatiana Malysheva, Bill Kalavriotis, Sumedha Dayaratne, David Ha, Anna Jankovic, Will Rogers, Nick Roberts
Main Contractor: Lendlease

Before Compliance
Acoustics: Marshall Day Acoustics
Building Services and Sustainability: Aurecon
Surveyor: PLP Building Surveyors & Consultants
Civil and Structural: Irwin Consult
Façade: Arup
Heritage: RBA Architects & Conservation Consultants
Landscape: Aspect Studios
Planning Supervision: Urbis
Signage and Wayfinding: Diadem
Lighting: Electrolight
Theater Consultant: Brian Hall & Marshall Day Entertech
Traffic: GTA

Photography: © Trevor Mein, © John Gollings, courtesy of John Wardle Architects

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