Striking Multi-Arts Centre to become a cultural landmark in Lake Mac  / by Kian West

A striking $2 million Multi-Arts Space featuring spectacular waterfront vistas will become a new focal point for arts and culture in Lake Macquarie.

A panel of expert judges today selected University of Newcastle undergraduate student Samantha Bailey’s concept design from a short-list of five for the new Speers Point Park facility. 

Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Cr Kay Fraser, said the brief to students at the University of Newcastle’s School of Architecture and Built Environment was to create a visually stunning building that pushed the boundaries of exhibiting art and staging cultural events.

“We wanted a building that would become a landmark for our City, a talking point for the community and most importantly a state of the art space to showcase our arts and culture,” Cr Fraser said.

Samantha Bailey's 1 to 200 scale model of the Multi-Arts Space.JPG

“Samantha Bailey’s design ticked those boxes.

“Her entry had the most potential to be developed as a significant cultural and arts space for Lake Macquarie. It stood out for its creativity, its thorough understanding of the brief and its potential relationship to the surrounding landscape.”

Ms Bailey said her design intended to create a flexible arts space that made the most of its spectacular location. 

“I wanted to emphasise the beauty of the site, and to create a building that will make people see the lake in a different light,” Ms Bailey said.

The NSW Government contributed $1.35 million of the $2.1 million total cost for the Multi Arts Space through its Regional Cultural Fund.

Arts Minister Don Harwin said the fund supported cultural infrastructure that enabled “bold, exciting and diverse” arts and cultural activities in regional NSW.

“This competition is such a unique opportunity, giving the next generation of talented young architects the chance to flex their creative muscles and design the concept for a major arts and culture landmark for Lake Macquarie,” Mr Harwin said.

The Multi-Arts Space will be capable of showcasing a range of visual and performing arts, from dance, theatre and multi-media installations to immersive virtual reality exhibitions.

Lake Macquarie City Council Manager Cultural Services Jacqui Hemsley said the building, at the western end of the Speers Point Park promenade, would also include a commercial kitchen to broaden its potential use for catered functions and events.

“This new facility will activate Speers Point Park by day and night,” Ms Hemsley said.

“It will help establish northern Lake Macquarie as one of the region’s major cultural destinations, with the potential to attract national and international artists and exhibitions.”

New Multi-Arts Space events, exhibitions and functions are expected to generate more than $1 million a year in tourism and flow-on revenue for Lake Macquarie.

A development application will be lodged next year, with the facility expected to open in 2020. 

University of Newcastle Head of Architecture Chris Tucker said the high standard of conceptual approaches from undergraduate students was impressive.

“The 90 students who participated in the project thoroughly enjoyed exploring the possible ways a Multi-Arts Space might take shape in Lake Macquarie,” Dr Tucker said.

“The diverse range of proposals shows just how differently students understand the relationship between art, architecture and landscape.”

The Multi-Arts Space will complement the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery across the water at Booragul – a site slated for significant expansion in 2019.

In May, the NSW Government announced it would provide $736,000 to extend the gallery, providing space for larger exhibitions, a new covered outdoor area for art programs, additional storage and an exhibition space for contemporary Aboriginal art.