The Hawthorn Arts Centre is based in the former Town Hall, built in 1888 and as such was not designed to be a multipurpose venue requiring the ability to stage shows, weddings, banquets, and theatre productions with their various logistical challenges. Having discovered some issues with their previous seating, the architect and HAC Team were intent on finding the best solution in terms of comfort, look, flexibility and storage solutions and put their wishes into an open tender to the Australian seating industry.
With a range of removable seating available, the team felt that the Profurn custom seating solutions would be the best option and proposed the square and round back seats for consideration. A comfortable, stylish seat with great design, high levels of stability and all requested safety features. With a 550mm seat allowance and rows of 950mm depth, there was sufficient space to promote a seat providing comfort for any requirements. The fabrics proposed lent themselves to the theatre setting and were easily accessible via Warwick fabrics.
Whilst there were a large number of issues to be dealt with, achieving storage for over 500 seats in an already full building required thinking outside the box, and being able to draw upon the resources of international expertise allowed Profurn to research solutions used in similar situations in Singapore and in the UK, including the Royal Albert Hall, where storage was at a premium. Liaising with the HAC team, we were able to identify areas currently underutilized and propose storage solutions. Using existing racking where logical and adapting as required, both costs and resources were minimised. Beyond this the seating would be placed in racks and stacked up to 4 levels high where space permitted. Obviously to do this required specific equipment which was researched and proposed. Reducing manual handling to a minimum and ensuring safe operation was also a key factor.
Drawing up this information and presenting it to the assessment panel in an easily understandable format was possibly the greatest challenge, but a combination of samples, large-scale plans and descriptions allowed us to get across our vision of the end result. The provision of references for a product not used at this scale in Australia was a challenge we had not considered, but fortunately we were able to provide sufficient information to be able to meet all requirements and were awarded the project.
Working closely with the HAC team we were able to work to specific timescales, variations to fabric and external suppliers regarding the lifting and handling equipment to have everything in place. The issues raised by Covid 19 meant that installation and full set up did not occur until later than expected, but with the venue under lockdown, this was not a major concern. Minor issues requiring alterations to racking and storage solutions, mapping of layouts and movement of seats were all part of the setting up process and have proved to be challenging but achievable.
The first public outing took place on Australia Day 2021, with the Citizenship Ceremony being held. Feedback from the public has been very positive and we look forward to may years of comfortable viewing by generations of visitors to the Hawthorn Arts Centre.
the drum theatre
The Drum Theatre is an award-winning architectural space, featuring a 521 Seat Theatre located in the heart of Dandenong. The entire auditorium, stage and fly tower is designed to be encompassed in a red oval drum.
Our Pacific Seat is installed throughout the theatre, with a newly engineered high-back model fit-out on the balcony to accomodate for the steep slope and smaller aisleways, while not compromising on comfort or aesthetic.