building the unfinished:
BAU003M The Victorian Pride Centre

St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia

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Discipline

Architecture, Interior Architecture

Typology

Public Building, Culture, Office, Commercial

City

St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia

Date

2017-2021

Status

Competition 1st Prize, Completed 2021

Client

Victorian Pride Centre

Program

Public shared work spaces; multi-function theatre; Joy FM 94.9; gallery; medical clinics; six shared meeting rooms; roof top terrace with events bar; community garden; book shop; café, children’s room; resident tenancies shared work space; four tea kitchens; Australian Gay + Lesbian Archives; Melbourne Queer Film Festival; Multi-Faith Australia; Switchboard Victoria; Minus 18 youth org; Koori Pride; Thorne Harbour Health; Monash Trans Health; Star Health.

introduction
The Victorian Pride Centre is the new home of Victoria’s LGBTQI+ communities. It is located in St. Kilda, the Melbourne beachside district renowned for its history of alternative popular culture. While being the the centre for numerous resident organisations, dozens of other groups will also frequent the building for meetings, events, and projects. The building provides a public working hub, café, theatre/multi-function space, archive, health centres, roof top garden, art gallery and lettable space for tenants interested in a relationship with the LGBTQI+ communities.

In January 2018 BAU (Brearley Architects and Urbanists) and GAA (Grant Amon Architects) were selected winners of a two-stage design competition. Their objectives, concepts, and propositions for the project are as follows.

pre-determinations
well-informed
BAU/GAA believe in being well informed, be it a well-prepared brief, understanding the site, knowing the client, or the introduction of other physical or intellectual frameworks.

Our client represents a community working towards a more equitable society, and they became our expert consultant on LGBTQI+ community issues. Members of the design team had lived in St. Kilda for over 25 years. We also sought extensive input from the local indigenous community. Finally, we brought to this project contemporary concepts of becoming, of dynamic systems, and the sublime.

inclusive
BAU/GAA seek an architecture of inclusion – an architecture of and, and, and.
…meaningful form and space full of potential; an order informed from the top down and the bottom up; a robust aesthetic and rationally pragmatic; cost effective and symbolically informed; poetic and rigorously articulated: flexible and surprising; equitable and free; and beyond cultural stereotypes.

client
pride
Pride means a multitude of things to different people. Many LGBTQI+ individuals have a personal challenge in moving from culturally imposed shame to a sense of pride. The fight for equality, mutual support, and community is an essential social project.

community
Exploring the aesthetics of the un-finished, the robust, the work in progress, the studio, the workshop, the factory; this building reinforces this atmosphere of work in progress and enables the LGBTQI+ community and the general community to get involved and contribute. This building contains a community of equals not a labour force of hierarchies.

sustainability
Sustainability targets include: zero carbon operation; rainwater capture to meet WC and on-site irrigation needs; grey water toilets; indigenous flora roof garden, forty-seven bike parking spaces and five showers; zero-energy breeze paths utilising a stack effect; and a 50kW photovoltaic roof installation.

viability and constructability
The project also provides: flexible rentable commercial space; a café fronting Fitzroy Street; and amenities for rooftop events; a theatre-cinema bar to cater for both private and VPC events; and a bookshop under the atrium stair-stage.

The building is highly systemized. It is a simple column and beam structure based on a commercial carparking grid.

place
be a good neighbour
To be a good neighbour the design needs to respond to:
a.) the urban design requirements in Fitzroy Street;
b.) solar access and perceived scale for residences in Jackson Street;
c.) the need to save the existing trees;

connectivity is urbanity
The edges of Fitzroy Street and Jackson Street contain active edges that provide eyes on the street. The Fitzroy Street facade continues over the footpath, giving the building the presence of a civic landmark.

Wherever possible the building’s circulation spaces have been programmed: from the entry to the ellipsoid atrium – an exhibition-gallery space; the ellipsoid atrium grand stair is a stage – a great place to be, not just a space to pass through.

Local indigenous content will include: small-scale details etched in concrete, acts of naming; the ground surface taking on the significance of country – all exploring themes common to local indigenous and LGBTQI values.

a broader context
St Kilda’s queer history unites many LGBTQI+ communities. The suburb has a proud architectural and landscape tradition of exuberance, romance, and escape. It has a history of mass entertainment and of being a place of the night. Memorable buildings explored the theatrical and the dynamic via exceptional Moorish Architecture and an enthusiastic use of curvilinear forms.
Learning from St Kilda, the VPC includes and then abstracts cultural traditions: the surreal follies of Luna Park, the rolling waves of St. Kilda beach, Inga King’s Forward Surge, the Catani Gardens ; the pragmatic Esplanade Vaults, the iconic Catani arched bridge; the Piranesian unravelling of grand 19th Century St Kilda, the decaying beachside structures; the super-graphics of Leo’s spaghetti bar, the Luna Park paintings by Nolan.

contemporary design methods
emergence
A series of conceptual tubes emerged as an abstract robust armature that integrates the maximum urban envelope, architectural expression, structure, services, and flexible interior design.

These conceptual tubes are then acted upon by the extraction of urban issues, and the extraction or addition of the specifics of the Pride Centre brief. These issues generate change, encourage difference, diversity, and inclusion, resulting in surprising and emergent outcomes.

coexistence
The formal, spatial, and ordering arrangements of the building are clear, legible, and without hierarchy.
a.) Circulation radiates from the ellipsoid atrium.
b.) Each floor gathers related programs, visually and spatially linked via the atrium.
c.) Structural and non-structural fabric is clearly articulated, explaining what is permanent and what is easily changed.
d.) A spectrum of hues clarifies levels within the building. On each level tints and shades of the particular hue explore natural light levels. This will be a dramatic building of light and shade. (GRANT TO CONFIRM)
e.) the interior design explores the coexistence of a series of clear and contradistinctive elements without hierarchy: i.) the container; the contained; ii.) service cores; iii.) floor surfaces; iv.) exposed services; v.) significant site lines; vi.) a timber framework integrated within the front partitions of resident organisations, and hanging rails and track lighting along all walls in public spaces, enable the emergence of an authentic self-expression.

the sublime
These coexistences lead to an aesthetic that exceeds the idea of the beautiful and presents the more universal, beyond cultural stereotypes, experience of the sublime.

catalyst
This project is a positive intervention in Fitzroy Street, not another anonymous commercial building. It engages with, understands, and then abstracts the spirit of the place that is St Kilda. The result is a landmark building people will use as a navigation point and a meeting place. The Pride Centre is a milestone in the nation’s social progress towards inclusiveness. More importantly it is a robust base from which to launch further campaigns in the fight for equality.

Shenzhen

Public Landscapes

Public

2020

Culture

Culture

Shanghai

2019

Nanjing

Planning

Hangzhou

2000-2005

Urban Design

Hospitality

2005-2010

Huai’an

Xi'an

Xinyu

Education

2013

2012

Retail

Mixed Use

Sports

Education

2018

Private Landscapes

Playgrounds

Suzhou

Infrastructure

Structures & Pavillions

Jiangyin

Yixing

2017

Office

Taizhou

Office

Retail

Melbourne

2016

2011

Residential

Kyneton

Healthcare

Hotel

Hotel

2015

2014

Wuxi

Healthcare

Fuding

Shaoxing

Chongqing

Kunshan

Wuhan

Cixi

Ningbo

Meishan

Canberra

Jingzhou

Chengdu

Hospitality

1990-2000

Xiamen

Residential

Hopetoun

Caofeidian

large plains, small grains, and the in-between:
BAU686 Longgang Arts Centre, Shenzhen

on reflection:
BAU674 Qingpu Performing Arts Centre

Place, typologies, programs, and public life:
BAU567 PUKOU COMMUNITY CENTRE

more than just a technopolis:
BAU206 Hangzhou Xiasha New City Centre

a second network embracing history, smalllness, and complexity:
BAU193 Chengdu West New District

a park for everyone and everyone in their park:
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disorder – not randonmness but beyond order:
BAU182 Chengdu East Village

mosaics of teaching, networks of learning:
BAU149 Huai’an Tertiary Education District

walled cities within a walled city:
BAU147 Xi’an High-Tech Precinct CBD

co-existence without incompatibility:
BAU138 Jiangxi Xinyu Networks City

space-time conflict:
BAU544 Shanghai University Campus

clarity and unpredictable adjacencies:
BAU119 Jinqiao Sports & Leisure Centre

Journeys AND destination, not just destinations:
BAU569 Nanjing Youfu West Street Primary School

continuous loops and internal courts:
BAU603 Suzhou kindergarten no. 3

weaving and stitching:
BAU616 Jiangyin Greenway Loop (stage 1. Eastern Segment)

a constructed and cultured topography:
BAU269 Jindi Green Land Club

it takes a village to educate a child:
BAU602 Suzhou Sci-tech City Xizhu Kindergarten

city typologies, cultural traditions, contemporary theories, and spaceships:
BAU600 Shanghai Qingpu Newtown 30-class Primary School

artificial plateau:building more site:
BAU599 Shanghai Qingpu Newtown 24-Class Junior High school

it is the least we could do: minimalism in an environment of expressionism
BAU584 Hangzhou Tonglu Office Building

more Piazza Navona than Levittown
BAU618 Tianyou Experimental Primary School and Kindergarten, Suzhou

classrooms AND the in-between: teaching and learning beyond the classroom
BAU610 Taizhou School

other institutions for this new century:
BAU604 Qingpu District People’s Court

building the unfinished:
BAU003M The Victorian Pride Centre

minimal AND maximal:
BAU583 Exhibition Pavilion Gaochun, Nanjing

small in scale large in monumentality:
BAU027 Wyndham Mausoleum

multiple rooms of difference:
BAU253 Shanghai Qingpu Renheng Yunjie Entrance Garden

active cultural edges, passive natural centres:
BAU402 Shanghai Qingpu Qin Yuan Lake Park

intimate, cool, sheltered and lively:
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formal teaching and informal learning:
BAU540 Gaochun New District Kindergaten to Year Nine School

an exercise in robustness:
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effortless complexity: learning from water-town:
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no longer but not only:
BAU213-3 Jindi Yunhu Market

actualizing the virtual:
BAU 213-2 Jindi Yunhu Sports and Activity Center

geometry, history, art, craft, iconography, and pragmatics: an exploration of intention, coding, narrative, and meaning
BAU021 Olinda Green + Public WC

there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in:
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BAU009 house in the sky

surreal adjacencies:
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mini-city of culture:
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keeping a low profile:
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positive space, human scale, and a blue-green net:
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dis-integrated guest houses :
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don’t look at me, don’t look at me:
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new buildings, old topography:
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don’t just re-use the typology, improve it!
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defining the perimeter, programming the centre, inhabiting them both:
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turning outside-in:
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beyond PODS, networks, and nodes:
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podium and bill(ding)board:
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inner sanctuary, outer crust:
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an excessive minimalism:
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a plane of reference:
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rips in the fabric by place:
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other ideas of hospital:
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architecture AND terrain:
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crust: in-between and on the edge
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eco urbanism:
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microcosm:
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beyond the picturesque:
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don’t just re-use the typology, improve it!
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building a community not just housing:
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upside down program – ‘private’ circulation becoming ‘public’ circulation:
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extra-large private space as public space:
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mini-me:
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staggering:
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urban camouflage:
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the resort at the end of the yellow dirt road:
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critical regionalism and abstraction:
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hospital for the ill, health care for the healthy, aged care for the elderly: BAU469 Zhaoxiang Hospital

tear open the package: BAU247 Qingpu NGS Supermarket

urban sponge:
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lyrical islands in pragmatic seas:
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fractured enormity:
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ring roads AND peripheral parks:
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simple box OR 3 points in space – you choose:
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many utopias:
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a close family:
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stretching, squeezing, bending, trimming:
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BOTH networks AND objects:
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ethics, democracy, difference:
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warp and woof:
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sustainable technologies for clean living:
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network of learning:
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not in galleries, but a way of seeing:
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shopping sandwich:
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celebrating the collective, the intimate, the sustainable, and the local:
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21st century Ponte Vecchio:
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antidote: not another ghetto city:
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at last …finally …some diversity:
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recycling and beyond
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an assemblage of difference:
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streets as shelters, bars as amphitheaters, landscapes as playgrounds:
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reduce, reuse, recycle:
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binary oppositions defining a field of operation – all we wanted was a park:
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the hotel as microcosm of the city:
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…very strange:
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the beautiful and the extraordinary:
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a dynamic yet stable vehicle:
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palimpsest:
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innovation both inside and out:
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exquisite corpse
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landscape becomes urban design becomes architecture:
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BAU386 Symbiotic City

repetition and difference:
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no longer drowning – waving:
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yet another point of view:
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ordinary not heroic, symbolic not monumental:
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woven threads:
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private precincts, public networks:
BAU226 Pudong Yangjing

creative networks:
BAU224 Chengdu Fenghuangshan

maximize commuication and cross fertilization:
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