Hamer Hall by ARM Architecture
Interior Architecture: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
In Hamer Hall’s interior, ARM Architecture stages a rematch between brutalist architect and fantastical designer and declares the whole thing a fabulous, celebratory tie. The architects channel the conflicting languages of Roy Grounds’ original architecture and John Truscott’s interiors in a virtuoso improvisation. The approach is not shy. It is not overly deferential. For the most part, it does not attempt to insert a third language into the mix.
Hamer Hall now has world-standard performance acoustics and state-of-the-art technology and back-of-house facilities. The public spaces of the building have been cunningly reworked to include appropriate amenity, foyer space and circulation. In other words, the building’s performance has been brought up to scratch.
All these upgrades have been made with extraordinary finesse. There is a sense that the original design has been extended to suit the new functional and spatial requirements of the hall. Many areas are improved, or made more dramatic, but always within one or other of the warring design languages. The end result is an outstanding success, bringing a compromised original to a fully realized and integrated scheme. If gold-plated stalactites can provide a lighting language and new walls can be lined in reindeer skin, why not? Where cold-headed rationality is required to eke out extra loos, it is exercised.
On the river’s edge, where the scheme makes great new urban moves, the interior is perhaps less successful, but it seems hard to compete with the masterful handling of ARM’s intervention in the Grounds and Truscott tussle at play in the main spaces.
The interiors are a telling snapshot of the Zeitgeist: playful yet seriously intelligent pluralism has won out over dogmatic design positions.
Read the project review by Paul Walker for Artichoke.