Cairns Performing Arts Centre (CPAC)


Cairns Performing Arts Centre (CPAC)

Cairns’ Performing Arts Centre takes out highest architecture accolade in Queensland

Cairns Performing Arts Centre (CPAC) has been awarded the Queensland Architecture Medallion, the highest honour presented at the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2021 Queensland Architecture Awards.

The Centre, designed by CA Architects and Cox Architecture in collaboration, was also crowned The FDG Stanley Award for Public Architecture.

The jury described CPAC as “setting a benchmark in regional performing arts spaces”.

The $70 million building, located in the heart of Cairns, is part of a cultural precinct within the associated Munro Martin Parklands.

Cox Architecture Director Richard Coulson said the multi award-winning building, now considered one of Queensland’s largest regional performing arts spaces, replaced a tired 1970s centre with limited seating and acoustics that prevented major shows from touring in Far North Queensland.

“Communities in regional Queensland often get underserved by their facilities and CPAC reflects Cairns Regional Council’s ambition,” Mr Coulson said.

“Now major productions are coming to Cairns because they have a venue that is world-class.

“Opera Queensland and the Royal Ballet have come here, prior to COVID, where previously it wouldn’t have happened. That’s rejuvenated the city’s cultural sense and its sense of community.”

The jury applauded the way the design responds to the city’s dramatic tropical setting and creates a world-class arts precinct by combining advanced facilities, increased audience capacity and state-of-the-art technology.

“As well as an architecturally significant building CPAC is a wonderful cultural asset for a city – a public building that enables more cultural experiences and is a catalyst for economic growth.”
In addition to major touring shows, the venue provides a professional platform for Far North Queensland’s home-grown performers, including school groups, eisteddfods, local theatre groups.

CPAC is now eligible for the Australian Institute of Architects’ National Awards, to be announced later this year.

The Harry Marks Award for Sustainable Architecture went to JCU Ideas Lab in Cairns. Wilson Architects with Clarke and Prince were behind the project, designed to bring together creative minds to translate ideas and research into commercial products and processes to drive economic growth and diversity in Australia.

Ideas Lab achieved a LEED Gold certification. The three-storey building is wrapped in a striking ‘origami’ screen that speaks to the innovation encouraged within the building. A spectacular wall of tropical tendril hanging plants are planted both inside and outside and provide a genuine sense of being in the tropics, while reducing both heat and glare.

The Jury cited JCU Ideas Lab, which opened in late 2020, as already “a beacon for innovative collaboration in the region” and for “making a significant contribution to economic growth.”

Photo credit: Christopher Frederick Jones