Philip Leeson Architects were the architects for the recently completed Ainslie Arts Centre Upgrade.
Peeling back the numerous layers built up over time, whilst giving new clarity to the proportions and detailing of the original school building, was the key concept to this project. The brief required a solution that would suit the arts centre’s modern and technical needs while maintaining and celebrating the building’s elegant spaces.
The refurbishment provides a state-of-the-art performance venue together with reception and catering spaces, which allow for new types of events at the arts centre. It also returned classrooms to use for group tuition and created acoustic pods for individual tuition. Interior design elements furnish large spaces that accommodate parents, students and siblings in their everyday use of the place, and set up comfortable and social office spaces for arts organisations.
The project benefited from the expertise of Philip Leeson Architects in-house heritage, interior and architectural professionals. Paring back the layers of refurbishments past in one of Canberra’s oldest buildings presented the team with a rolling series of challenges that required neat resolution during construction.
Without adding any new floor area to the building, the project has significantly increased the useability of, and delight in, this important public and community space. By focusing on renewal, refurbishment and subtraction rather than addition, the client, user groups and consultant team were guided through a process that was sensitive to heritage values and which emphasised a fix, keep, reduce and reuse mindset that is key to a more sustainable future.