Celebrating iconic theatres – young and old

Jennifer Shand Jennifer Shand Australasia Press Office,Sydney
3 September 2020

South Australia is celebrating two milestones in its cultural life this week, with the first staged performances at the redeveloped Her Majesty’s Theatre coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the opening of the iconic UKARIA Cultural Centre.

Arup has collaborated on the design of both prestigious venues as well as their critical acoustic qualities.

We are proud of Arup’s involvement in helping to shape the cultural world of South Australia, creating wonderful venues for artists and patrons. ”

Cameron Hough Cameron Hough Associate Acoustic and Theatre Consulting

Over the past five years, a constellation of world-class Australian and international artists has performed at UKARIA, sharing with audiences the unique experience of the Cultural Centre where nature and music blend ‘in perfect harmony’ with the architecture. 

UKARIA first performance 2015 UKARIA first performance 2015
UKARIA's first performance in 2015

Arup collaborated with Anton Johnson Architect in the design of UKARIA and in helping to make the concerts’ sonic experience a memorable match for the sophisticated spaces, beautiful gardens and natural setting overlooking Mount Barker Summit.

The redeveloped and iconic Her Majesty’s Theatre will provide Adelaide with an exciting venue for a wide variety of musical and theatrical events.  

Arup worked with Cox Architecture to deliver the acoustic design for the entire building and the specialist structural and facade engineering for the stunning diagrid facade that encapsulates the new foyer annexe. 

Cox Architecture has made arriving at the ‘new’ Maj a special experience – from the glamorous new foyers that reveal views across to the iconic Central Market, to the auditorium that blends contemporary design with echoes of the heritage of the original 1913 Tivoli theatre.

The new acoustic environment gives spectacular clarity, allowing fine details of the performance to be heard from every seat of the elegant 1467-seat auditorium, including the Grand Circle, which has been reinstated after more than 50 years.

Her Majestys Theatre Adelaide interior seating balcony Her Majestys Theatre Adelaide interior seating balcony

Adelaide Festival Centre Head of Sound, Jane Rossetto said: “From our first discussions, the aim was for a vocal plate acoustic. The venue needed to handle amplified performances to big international musicals but also allow for more intimate and smaller acoustic performances like string quartets.

“Recent testing proves there is a sweet spot for the performers onstage, where they are able to hear back from the auditorium. The curved balconies almost hug the performers and allow the audience to feel but also hear their closeness.”

With world-class venues for chamber music and now musical theatre, opera and ballet, Adelaide rightly takes its place as the only UNESCO City of Music in Australia. 

© Chris Oaten