TRACC, Toowoomba

Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) in partnership with Empire Theatres was seeking to create a new bespoke Performance Venue within the existing Empire Theatre Precinct. The proposed Theatre referred to as the Toowoomba Regional Arts Community Centre (TRACC) will provide a flexible environment, capable of accommodating the diverse uses anticipated by the Empire Theatres. This will include performance space with retractable seating for up to 288 patrons, function space for approximately 300 in a dinner setting, trade show opportunities, theatre / stage / technical training with Schools / TAFE’s and Universities, community theatre groups and movies in addition to the necessary support spaces and meeting areas.
JCA were appointed as the Project Architects aiming to deliver the necessary aesthetic that would differentiate the new facility from the other spaces on the site but in turn also allowing a cohesive connectivity to the history of the site. This approach was realised by allowing TRACC to ‘consume’ part of the Heritage listed Wesley Church Theatre, this deliberate link allows the 2 buildings to be unified in their common usage but in turn reinforce their architectural differences. In addition this key decision will afford TRACC greater prominence within the site but also reinforce the Empire’s desire to create a connected precinct. TRACC’s position within the north east corner of the site has driven much of the buildings form and aesthetic. The use of tilt-up concrete gives a simple robustness to the building whilst providing an economical construction methodology. This minimal approach enables greater emphasis to be placed on the entry which due to the necessary relationships with the other buildings within the precinct faces west. This presented a number of challenges which have been overcome through the strategic use of materials nominated and sun shading devices. The entry was required to be distinct from that of the church but not overpower the Heritage listed building. This has been achieved through subtly concealing the entry within the existing landscape, through the use of lighting the entry is conceived to glow giving the emphasis to the arrivals process but being set back within the site and not visually competing with the church theatre facade. Internally TRACC continues its robust / industrial aesthetic, giving the building a contemporary edge and capturing the mood of the type of performances expected.