Eternity Playhouse is a magnificent heritage restoration and renovation of an iconic Sydney building. Darlinghurst Theatre Company has worked closely with the City of Sydney and architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer to create a grand and technically advanced theatre that is also welcoming, accessible, intimate and sustainable.
Eternity Playhouse, image (c) Brett Boardman Photography
The former Baptist Street Tabernacle was built in 1887 and is typical of the Victorian Free Classical architectural style applied to religious buildings at the time. When the City of Sydney purchased the building in 2004 it was in need of significant repair. In 2008 major work began to bring the 127 year old heritage listed building back to its former glory.
Restoration work included repairs to the roof structure and the laying of new Welsh slate tiles to match the originals, restoration of the original decorative timber ceiling and stain glass windows, re-pointing of brickwork, and general repairs. The original Baptismal Font (a water bath used for full immersion baptisms) has been retained underneath the theatre stage.
ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN
The design for Eternity Playhouse is by leading heritage architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer whose previous work includes Customs House, Hyde Park Barracks and Carriageworks. The refurbishment includes a 200 seat state-of-the art theatre, spacious foyer and cafe/bar, as well as a new contemporary back of house area. The building's restored heritage features have been complemented with contemporary details such as the folded steel staircase to the theatre.
Environmental building initiatives incorporated into the design include energy efficient lighting, photovoltaic cells on the roof, rainwater collection and reuse, and crowd responsive air conditioning.
Reclaimed materials from the original building have been adapted and incorporated into the new design as much as possible. The raked foyer ceiling is made from recycled timber from the original church floor and wood panelling from the original choir stalls form feature panels on the interior foyer walls.
THEATRE & TECHNOLOGY
Eternity Playhouse offers vastly improved technical facilities for our artists with ample stage and back stage areas, state-of-the-art lighting equipment and a professional sound system. The D-shaped thrust stage and continental style seating ensures audiences always remain close and connected to the performance on stage, and a transparent lighting grid allows patrons to see contemporary working elements of the theatre juxtaposed against the original ornate wood panelled ceiling.
Australian Institute of Architects National Architecture Awards 2014 - Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage
Australian Institute of Architects NSW Architecture Awards 2014 - Greenway Award for Heritage
Master Builders Association NSW 2104 - Award for Construction - Adaptive Re-use of an Historic Building
Intergrain Timber Vision Awards 2014 - Commercial Interior Special Mention