ULUMBARRA THEATRE BENDIGO
BENDIGO SENIOR SECONDARY COLLEGE
The transformation of Bendigo's Gaol to Ulumbarra Theatre has been an exciting and unique adventure. The design draws on the prison's heritage and inverts its relationship with the community. To the north, the new pubic face of the centre addresses Gaol Road; inviting visitors through a break in the old gaol wall. The Theatre's fly tower and contemporary facilities are deliberately located to rear of the site, drawing patrons through the heart of the former prison.
This journey leads to central hall connecting Ulumbarra's old and new spaces. The Gaol's radiating Pentoville plan becomes apparent when viewing the addition of the black box hospitality wing to the south. This space plays on theatre conventions with a Black Box Theatre housed elsewhere in a white box.
The design encourages exploration of the site's heritage with elements of the new lightly touching the old. Frequently patrons are given new incites; from windows that frame old guard towers to reflections of the gaol viewed in the glazing of courtyards. In the main auditorium the seats hint of the tones in the brickwork outside, a quiet reminder of Ulumbarra's unique nature. Outside the Gaol's Kitchen Gardens have been reinvigorated to form an alfresco dining area that opens up the southern corner of the site to the surrounding recreational spaces.
Ulumbarra's plan allows for various occupants to work simultaneously either as independent users or in collaboration. The inclusion of the Hospitality and Arts programs allows students to actively engage with a larger audience and create industry pathways. The community further benefits from access to a range of facilities including a drama room that doubles as a theatre, a dance studio and the commercial kitchens.
The Ulumbarra Theatre provides an enriched public asset that intrinsically values both Bendigo's history and its future.