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Articles, Projects

Multi-Arts Pavilion Lake Macquarie

Art and innovation join forces for Lake Macquarie’s latest creative endeavour.

It’s not often that an undergraduate architecture student gets the opportunity to design a multi-million-dollar public building before they graduate, but one such student at the University of Newcastle has been given the opportunity to see her dream imagined into reality. 

In 2018, as part of a design competition conceived by Lake Macquarie City Council and the local university, undergraduate student Samantha Bailey’s concept was chosen from a pool of 90 candidates. Her winning design, a contemporary, cutting-edge venue, where art in all its many applications can take centre stage, has been transformed into the newly opened Multi-Arts Pavilion, mima (MAP mima). The initial design captured the imagination of Lake Macquarie Mayor, Kay Fraser for its unique response to the environment and ability to push the boundaries when it came to exhibiting art and staging cultural events. 

“We wanted a building that would become a landmark for our city, a talking point for the community and most importantly, a state-of-the-art space to showcase our arts and culture,” says Mayor Kay Fraser. 

“Samantha Bailey’s design ticked those boxes. Her entry had the most potential to be developed as a significant cultural and arts space for Lake Macquarie. It stood out for its creativity as well as its thorough understanding of the brief.”

Mima, an Awabakal word meaning ‘cause to stay’, signals an intention for this venue to form the groundwork for the conscious intermingling of ancient and emerging cultural expressions. 

The contemporary venue is home to an immersive and interactive multi-arts experience, featuring a central gallery (the Cube) for exhibitions and large-scale multimedia installations, as well as a hydraulic awning that opens to create a roofed staged area for live events outside the building. 

The overall design is utilitarian, yet gentle in nature. Built with the strength and visual solidity of Architec blocks from Austral Masonry, the sturdiness is complemented by the soft texture of the brick face finish, leaving its natural aggregate to shine through. The building appears to rise proudly at the end of the Speers Point parkland promenade, as if both newly conceived and having always existed there. Yet, despite its bold structural composition, the building comes alive at night, illuminated by artworks on the exterior of the building and incredible soundscapes, turning the walls into an inspiring large-scale canvas that pierces the night sky.    

The flexible venue has been equipped with state-of-the-art technology, allowing it to host a program of cultural events year-round, including national and international contemporary art installations, live performances, music and digital art screenings. Upon launching late last year, a steady flow of creatives have made their mark on the venue, such as Hiromi Tango, PluginHUMAN, Lottie Consalvo and musician Andy Firth – making it a must-visit destination for Lake Macquarie’s cultural offering. 

As a facility, MAP mima has activated Speers Point Park by day and by night, helping to establish Lake Macquarie as one of the region’s major cultural destinations while bringing the area into the creative spotlight once more. 

“We wanted a building that would become a landmark for our city, a talking point for the community and most importantly, a state-of-the-art space to showcase our arts and culture”

Mayor, Kay Fraser
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“We wanted a building that would become a landmark for our city, a talking point for the community and most importantly, a state-of-the-art space to showcase our arts and culture”

Mayor, Kay Fraser
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