St Michael’s Performing Arts Centre

St Michael’s Grammar School is a private co-educational school catering for students from Early Learning to Year 12. The school is situated in inner-city Melbourne on a site that contains an eclectic collection of buildings from various periods of Melbourne’s history. St George Uniting Church, East St Kilda now forms part of the school’s Performing Arts Facilities.

Kneeler Design Architects has been engaged to undertake a schematic design study for renovation works required to the St George Uniting Church to provide dedicated facilities for music, drama and performing arts, as well as a space for general school use such as assemblies, presentations and speech nights. A key ambition of the project is to maximise seating numbers whilst maintaining good sightlines to the stage area and negotiating a complex range of heritage controls.

With this in mind, a working methodology and preliminary approach was presented to Heritage Victoria, who were in favour of the proposed approach. The design proposal takes the form of several careful insertions and interventions that lightly touch the building fabric, so that the original proportions and detailing of the space can still be read. The proposed design remains a recognisably ecclesiastical space that is respectful of the significant heritage fabric, whilst providing a visually exciting, immersive theatrical experience.