Plans and designs have been revealed for stage three of the Her Majesty's Theatre redevelopment.
The City of Ballarat has submitted a heritage permit application with Heritage Victoria for the works which centre around improving accessibility, safety and functionality of the historic building.
The 107-page heritage impact statement, drawings and renders were completed for council by Melbourne architecture firm Conservation Studio which has also worked on the Shrine of Remembrance and Melbourne's Her Majesty's Theatre.
According to the heritage impact statement, council is seeking a five-year permit for the proposed works.
The upgrades would provide full accessibility at each of the theatre's entrances from Lydiard Street, Unicorn Lane and Lewis Street as well as improve internal access to the auditorium, with automated doors to be installed at the south disabled access entrance which will also be blended in better with the foyer.
The stalls foyer bar and ticket office would be relocated to the back wall to create a more spacious gathering area.
A new elevator would provide direct access to the entire building, including each level of the auditorium, long room, basement toilets and back of house. To reduce heritage impact, the lift would be installed in place of a staircase built during restoration works in the 1990s.
The Unicorn Lane entrance would receive a big makeover, with an artwork made of perforated metal cladding depicting the opening of the theatre, first known as the Ballarat Academy of Music, and taken from an engraving in the June 8, 1875 edition of The Courier to be installed on the northern wall of the theatre.
The current stairs at Unicorn Lane, which are considered non-original and non-significant, would be demolished to construct a compliant fire-rated stair while a new entrance to Lucky's Foyer would also be built.
The Unicorn Lane entrance to the future refurbished administration hub is proposed to be shifted west of its current location so it can be clearly identified from Sturt Street.
A new administration hub is proposed to 'reconnect the space with the rest of the theatre' by providing access from Unicorn Lane, enlarging Lucky's Foyer, connecting it with the rest of the theatre and providing an administration area to be used by staff from Her Majesty's Theatre and Royal South Street.
"The exposure of the original 1875 timber auditorium frame will reconnect the basement space with the rest of the theatre. The 1875 stair connecting the front of house to the original flat stalls floor will be highlighted in the Kittson Room," the heritage impact statement says.
"All the heritage fabric will be retained as existing or will be reinstated to its original or early finishes (unpainted timber, raw brickwork, and exposed bluestone with off-white limewash).
IN OTHER NEWS:
"To highlight the heritage fabric, the refurbished areas in Lucky's Foyer (offices, Kittson Room, and amenities) will form a new 'pod' within the heritage space, which will be treated in a contemporary and sympathetic manner visually detached from the heritage fabric."
The works will also create additional spaces through reconfiguration, including a third tech room and a new storage room.
Proposed back of house works are limited to connecting the new administration hub, the new eastern lift and the lower level of the back of house.
"The introduction of two new lifts, universally compliant stairs and ramps, and general fire, safety and compliance upgrade provides full universal access for public, performers, and staff throughout the theatre - something not currently provisioned and thus a factor in limiting access to and appreciation of this valuable heritage place for a sizeable section of the community," the heritage impact statement said.
"Further, the proposed works aim to enhance the embodiment and expression of Her Majesty Theatre's architectural, historical, and social significance through reinstating original and early design intent for the front of house, conserving the highly intact and significant auditorium, and extending understanding of the place's history and heritage through exposure of original fabric... and treatment of facades."
City of Ballarat chief executive Evan King said the purpose of stage three works was to enhance patron and performer experience of the 'magnificent heritage asset'.
"Key features include installing lifts; improving disability access across all levels and amenities; and remodelling the foyer, ticket box and candy bar to increase capacity and patron movement through that space and enhance the experience of patrons when attending performances," he said.
"As the proud custodian of Her Majesty's Theatre, the City of Ballarat is grateful to the state government for this ongoing partnership to restore and rejuvenate the theatre for our community."
Her Majesty's Theatre is one of the oldest theatres in Australia, opening on June 7, 1875 as the Ballarat Academy of Music, with its first performance a comic opera by the French composer Charles Lecocq, La Fille de Madame Angot, presented by the Royal Opera Bouffe Company.
The upgrade is a $10 million state government funded project and stage three works are anticipated to commence in mid-2022 and be complete by mid-2023.
The heritage impact statement, drawings and renders are available to be viewed at the Heritage Victoria website.
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