There are exciting changes ahead for the Theatre Royal that will provide greatly improved facilities and amenities for Theatre Royal patrons and performers as part of the Hedberg. These changes will also ensure the on-going viability and safeguard the future of the Theatre Royal.

To see what’s happening on the site, the Webcam can be accessed here.

Setting the Stage

The Hedberg performing arts centre, will be a contemporary landmark which will enhance Hobart’s beloved Theatre Royal.

It is one of Tasmania’s most ambitious arts projects – a $96 million performing arts development.

Once complete, it will include the Theatre Royal and the University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music.

The project is being realized as part of, and will further contribute to, Tasmania’s cultural and artistic resurgence.

The design will incorporate the latest technologies and inviting public spaces to enhance Tasmania’s position as a leader in the creative, performing and digital arts.

The precinct aspires to be a destination that delivers a vibrant and exciting place for a range of audiences - the general public, tourists, researchers, educators, students and audiences.

Once completed, the facility will be a fantastic new addition to the Hobart CBD, complementing other attractions in the area.

The partners collaborating in this project are the Tasmanian State Government, the Theatre Royal, Liminal Studio, WOHA Architects, Arup, and the University of Tasmania.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in late 2019.

What does this mean for the Theatre Royal?

One of the aims of this development is to both preserve and enhance the Theatre Royal’s existing heritage value, while providing a modern facility that has room for growth.

Theatre Royal patrons will be offered an exciting range of performing arts experiences, improved access and facilities and the opportunity to enjoy a new, vibrant cultural destination.

There will be significant upgrades to the Theatre Royal’s patron facilities and backstage area, improving the non-heritage structures that were built after the fire that nearly destroyed the theatre in 1984. These upgrades will include:

  • a new public entrance providing equitable access for people with a disability into all levels, in addition to the existing historical entrance, which will not be changing
  • a new multi-level foyer space adjoining the Theatre Royal, providing access to the dress circle and gallery, including expanded bars and new public toilet facilities on every level
  • the Backspace Theatre will be replaced by a modern built for purpose Studio Theatre facility that will seat up to 285 patrons
  • a new ticketing and cloakroom area
  • improved undercover loading dock, lift, storage and backstage areas, creating a suite of modern, comfortable dressing rooms and facilities to replace the current non-heritage layout
  • removal of the non-heritage fire escape stairway currently bolted to the Theatre Royal’s sandstone facade and new fire escapes that will improve safety standards
  • removal of the existing bars and ticketing booth from the Theatre Royal foyers with more room for access to the modern facilities.

The new building will be connected to the Theatre Royal by a glass atrium that joins the new building to the existing theatre, while also improving access. All levels will include a series of balconies and tiers that set the building back from the theatre and surrounding streets.

What’s in a name?

The two story heritage-listed Hedberg Brothers Garage will be an important part of the design of the new building and the key entry point from Collins St.

The Hedberg Brothers Garage, built in 1925 and opened in 1926, has intrinsic heritage value as an early, unusual and important example of its type.

The archaeological survey of the site revealed that under its foundations are the remnants of small residences from the 1830s, when Hobart’s Wapping district was a bustling hive of working-class residences, industry and entertainment. It was at this time, in 1834, that work started on what was to become and remains a cultural jewel for the city, the magnificent Theatre Royal.

Physically, the Hedberg Brothers Garage was at the heart of Wapping, bounded by the Theatre Royal, City Hall, hospital and the Hobart Rivulet.

Just as the contemporary building, bearing its name, will be at the heart of the ongoing resurgence of Hobart as a cultural and performance centre of national and international standing.

Design and Construction

Tasmanian firm Liminal Architecture is partnering with internationally-renowned Singaporean architects WOHA and Arup Acoustics and Theatre, to design the world-class performing and creative industries facilities required for this project. This partnership will give the project national and global exposure, while also strengthening University’s ties with our Asia-Pacific neighbours.

The Principal Consultant, Liminal Architecture has developed a revered national reputation for not only its community engaging, place-making designs, but also for the vital role it has played in contributing to and elevating Tasmania’s cultural landscape.

Liminal has brought together a world-leading team, experienced in performing arts and education, to design and deliver a state-of-the-art, landmark facility that will further enhance Tasmania’s reputation as a leading cultural hub.

Archaeological work is being done in conjunction with the Tasmanian Heritage Council and will include the partial demolition of the Hedberg Brothers Garage. Results from the archaeological investigation will inform aspects of the design.

Impact and Benefits

The total project is valued at $96 million.

Employment is estimated at about 280 at peak of construction and about 60 when the project is completed.

Steps are being taken to ensure that any disruptions to traffic, local residents, businesses and pedestrians are kept to a minimum.

All site works will comply with Hobart City Council’s requirements; by operating between 7:00am and 6:00pm. Scheduling will also ensure that construction does not interfere with performances.

Dust will be minimised with suppression techniques, including the wetting and covering of materials and vehicle loads.

For any questions or concerns regarding the project contact: University of Tasmania Project Manager, Terry Lockwood on 03 6324 3641.


(Image credit: Design by Liminal Architecture with WOHA architects. Rendering by Doug + Wolf).

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