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Australia’s First Pride Center wins 2022 Victorian Architecture Awards.

By on June 27, 2022 0

Australia’s first hub specifically designed for LGBTIQ+ communities, the Victorian Pride Center in St Kilda has won the top prize for public architecture at the 2022 Victorian Architecture Awards.

Brearley Architects & Urbanists (BAU) and Grant Amon Architects, the team behind the Pride Centre, which opened to the public in July 2021, have won the William Wardell Award for Public Architecture.

This award was a “testimony to the tenacity of our communities”, said Justine Dalla Riva, CEO of the Victorian Pride Centre.

Justine Dalla Riva, CEO of the Victorian Pride Center (front, far right) during the building contraction. Picture: Provided.

“We are as beautiful as this building, and we deserve something as iconic that recognizes our past and creates a truly welcoming place, now and in the future. There is permeability and protection in the blades of concrete that make up the structure, elements of continuous evolution and unfinished exposed elements that remind us that we still have work to do,” said Dalla Riva.

The CEO thanked the architects “for their incredible work and for their journey of consultation and understanding with us. How can you create a community hub without a community you can’t, so we should all feel like winners.

An emblematic public building is born

The ellipsoid-shaped, light-filled central atrium is the heart of the Victorian Pride Center located on Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. Photographer: John Gollings

Located in the seaside suburb of St Kilda, the iconic Fitzroy Street building is the first of its kind public building in Australia – a government-funded center for the LGBTQI community.

“From the outside, the Victorian Pride Center is deeply welcoming and exudes a sense of confidence and pride. The building with its tripartite arch composition and whimsical rooftop pavilions is a clever reminder of St Kilda’s iconic institutions – St Kilda Sea Baths, Palais Theater and Luna Park,” said the awards jury.

“The Victorian Pride Center defies the norms of hierarchy, order and architectural logic,” said James Brearley, principal of Brearley Architects & Urbanists. Photographer: John Gollings

The interior spaces are equally striking, and nothing epitomizes safe space and glamor more than the glorious”ellipsoid-shaped central atrium, filled with light” and the grand staircase. It is a wonderful gathering place and a thoughtful symbol of the ongoing struggle for equality, diversity and inclusion,” the jury said.

According to BAU Director James Brearley, the client’s mandate was to create a “a sense of belonging and a sense of pride in themselves and their community”.

“We needed a quality of permanence and robustness. It also needed to have a welcoming, club-like atmosphere,” Bearley said. stargazer.

St Kilda’s queer stories were inspirational

The Victorian Pride Center is located on Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. Photographer: John Gollings

One of the inspirations was the Victorian Trades Hall in Melbourne, one of the oldest trade union buildings in the world, built in 1859.

“The building (VPC) defies the norms of hierarchy, order and architectural logic. It engages the notions of the unfinished, of the in-between, of emergence and of coexistence. It extends the treasure of St Kilda’s sensuous architecture and eerie seaside space. And, of course, the building’s bathrooms are non-binary! Bearley said.

“As we moved away from the sleek corporate aesthetic, we made a lot of the spaces raw, like warehouses. Organizations can embrace public spaces with their own art, design and communication,” said James Brearley, principal of Brearley Architects & Urbanists. Photographer: John Gollings.

The strange stories of St Kilda were also a source of inspiration. “Influence has been drawn from the exotic history of sea bathing architecture, ballrooms, Moorish influences from St Kilda, the exuberant curvatures of Luna Park, the cupolas, domes, vaults of the ‘Esplanade, designs from Catani Park and local paintings by Nolan. The influence of local architect Allan Powell, sadly recently deceased, is present in our engagement with the Piranesian space, the great untangled St Kilda, the green roofs, the civic portico, the sea-worn whitewashed concrete formwork” , Brearley said.

For the community

Drag performer Dolly Diamond at the opening of the Victorian Pride Center in July 2021. Photographer: Gabriel Jia.

The architects never lost sight of the fact that the space had to work for the community. A conscious decision was made to move away from the “sleek corporate aesthetic” and make the spaces “raw, warehouse-like”.

“We made the forum a large space with a sliding glass wall down to the sidewalk. Events such as the Gay Stuff Markets, which hit in the morning, spill out onto the street below the portico. The heart of the building is the atrium, used as an amphitheater for the public or as a stage for speakers and performers. We didn’t expect the huge rooftop to be so popular. With fantastic views of the bay, it hosts a host of events, including the hugely popular yoga disco and Sunday socials,” Brearley said.

Drag performer Frock Hudson gets vaccinated at the Victorian Pride Center (left) in October 2021. Team administering the vaccines (right). Images: provided

The Pride Center is open to all and welcomes not only the LGBTQI community, but also the local community of St Kilda and Melbourne. “The center is proving essential in bringing about a rebirth of Fitzroy Street,” Brearley added.

The architecture awards were announced at a ceremony hosted by the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects on June 17, 2022. The winners will now compete for the National Architecture Awards 2022.