- Principal Designers: James Brearley, Steve Whitford, Jens Eberhardt, Grant Amon
- Documentation Team: Fonarri Chen
- Interior Architects: Stephen Herbst, Estelle Peters, Karen McMull
- Slate Consultant: Quantity Surveyor
- General Contractor : Hansen Yuncken
- Structural Concept: Peter Felicetti
- City: St Kilda
- Country: Australia
Text description provided by the architects. In 2017, a national survey in favor of marriage equality lead to the Australian parliament passing the bill to legalize same-sex marriage, a milestone in the struggle for equality for the LGBTQI+ community. The same year, the Victorian Pride Centre (VPC), a not-for-profit organization, received funding from the Victorian Government for Australia’s first purpose-built LGBTQI+ center and subsequently held an open architectural competition for the design of the center in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. In January 2018 Brearley Architects & Urbanists (BAU) and Grant Amon Architects (GAA) were selected winners of the design competition.
The VPC houses numerous resident organizations and welcomes dozens of groups for meetings, events, and projects. The building provides a public working hub, health and welfare centers, bookshop, theatrette, archives, roof terrace, and a gallery. Planned for 2022 are a café, rooftop events pavilion, and community garden.
Augmenting the client’s brief, BAU and GAA carried out workshops with user groups and the local indigenous community. Consequent ambitions for the architecture included the creation of a profoundly welcoming and safe place; a significant landmark of Australia’s cultural progress; and flexible workshop spaces for driving campaigns of equity, liberty, and inclusivity further. Spirit of place and notions of becoming provided the conceptual frameworks for the design.
St Kilda’s queer history unites many LGBTQI+ communities. Learning from St Kilda, the VPC includes and then abstracts cultural traditions of the exotic, the exuberant, the surreal, and the in-between. The Fitzroy Street strip, the beach, the baths, Luna Park, Catani arch, Esplanade vaults, dance halls, and other histories, all inform this process.
A series of conceptual tubes emerge as an abstract armature that maximizes the urban envelope; provides relevant and significant architectural forms and spaces, and generates an overarching order. Most importantly, these conceptual tubes are then acted upon by extraction of the specifics of the brief; the more the internal program disrupts the tubes, the more the forms and spaces of a coexistence emerge. These emergent and surprising outcomes embrace difference, diversity, and inclusion. The resultant sense of constant becoming, of a work in progress, embodies the ongoing struggle toward equity, freedom, and fellowship.
The VPC aims to see beyond conventional uses and spaces, challenge norms and hierarchies, to create a flexible and evolving program. Circulation radiates from the atrium, which provides legibility, natural light, a performance stage, an informal amphitheater, and a dynamic focus at the heart of the building. Structural and non-structural fabric is clearly articulated, explaining what is permanent and what is easily changed. The interiors combine raw structural concrete and exposed services with warm materiality including timber, colored ceramics, and velvet curtains. These coexistences further the notion of an aesthetics of inclusion.
Smaller tenancies in the building resemble laneway shopfronts. A sacrificial timber framework integrated within these shop fronts along with hanging rails and track lighting above walls enables tenants to adapt and experiment with the spaces, enabling the emergence of authentic self-expression.