Artfully done: Concept designs, business case for cultural centre revealed

February 24, 2022 BY

A concept design in the report prepared by William Ross Architects. Photo: SUPPLIED

CONCEPT designs and a business case for the new Surf Coast Cultural Centre have been revealed, with the centre expected to attract tens of thousands more visitors and support more than 800 direct and indirect jobs.

To be built in the Surf City precinct and expand the existing Torquay Library, Australian National Surf Museum and Visitor Information Centre as well as add new spaces, the centre will be built in two stages at a total cost of about $57 million.

According to the concept design report prepared by William Ross Architects and presented to Surf Coast Shire councillors at their meeting on Tuesday this week, the design celebrates the site and surrounds through input from the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, and the concepts of “Creativity, Culture and Community Gathering”.

“Located in a tight urban site surrounded by ‘big box’ retail and on grade car parking, the project has the opportunity to transform the precinct through an evocative architectural and public realm design,” the report states.

“To achieve this, the site boundaries should be blurred – bringing improved public realm experiences and curated journeys across the site that reach out across Surf Coast Highway back to Torquay, and to the north-west to engage with the residential areas and high school beyond.

“The architecture shall respond to the flow of people and site, creating spaces and edges that are habitable and welcoming – a seated building edge in the dappled shade; a facade that showcases internal activities; views out to the public spaces and beyond; views from the first floor to where the sky meets the water or land.”

The Stage 1 upgrades will sit alongside The MAC, which is already in place at the precinct, and Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Liberal candidate for Corangamite Stephanie Asher toured The MAC during a visit on Monday this week.

Surf Coast Shire mayor Libby Stapleton, federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley, Torquay Theatre Troupe vice-president Fred Preston and Liberal candidate for Corangamite Stephanie Asher backstage at The MAC. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

The officers’ report to councillors states the Concept Design and Business Case affirm the council’s two-staged construction approach for the centre, and also outline how the centre should be operated and the benefits and impacts of delivering it.

The shire has already committed $8.06 million and is seeking a further $28.9 million from grant programs and/or state or federal election commitments to make up the full cost of $36.86 million for stage 1.

Applications to the state Regional Tourism Investment Fund for $10 million and the federal Building Better Regions Fund for $8.06 million have been made, but shire officers warn in their report that “the inability to attract adequate external funding to deliver the full Stage 1 project is a significant risk to the project”.

“The project is included in council’s advocacy priorities and it is a regular inclusion in conversations with politicians and candidates in this double election year.

“Multiple and ongoing applications to significant grant round continue and more will be required in the future to attract the $29 million in external funding to deliver the project.

“Council being successful with some grants but not securing the full $29 million required presents a difficult future decision of potentially handing money back, reducing scope of the project or council borrowing to fund the project.”

Stage 2, to be built in 2030, will cost a further $20.7 million.