Finalist 2022

Victorian Pride Centre

Brearley Architects + Urbanists (BAU) / Grant Amon Architects (GAA) / WSP / Peter Felicetti

The VPC creates a more inclusive Australia, providing a loved and well known home for LGBTQI+ people and organisations.

The VPC is the first purpose-built centre for Australia's LGBTIQ+ communities. It is a place to invent new futures, while honouring and celebrating the difficult past. The architectural ambitions include the creation of: a deeply welcoming place; a significant landmark of Australia’s cultural progress; and an enabling place for driving campaigns of equality and inclusion. Spirit of place, concepts of becoming, and the notion of building the unfinished, drive the design. St Kilda’s queer history unites LGBTQI+ communities. Learning from St Kilda, the VPC re-presents traditions of the exotic, the exuberant, the surreal, the beach, the strip, and the in-between.

Design Brief:

The architectural themes that the VPC board sought from the building are to unify, collaborate, celebrate, and engage. Important to the architectural message of the Centre are values, culture and history. It seeks to provide a hub that will be a catalyst to promote cultural activities and develop the capacity of LGBTQI+ organisations, foster communication between them, encourage new groups to form and support them. It celebrates, bolsters and protect equality, diversity and inclusion, forging a new chapter in the narrative of Australian Pride by bringing the LGBTQI+ community together in a single and powerful space. It provides flexible and multiuse spaces to incorporate the many anticipated and future uses. It is welcoming, fully accessible, and gives the community a sense of being engaged, of flourishing and belonging. It l brings a sense of joy, of colour, of new futures, of exciting possibilities to its community.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

The project was a two stage open design competition based on the Model Conditions for an Architectural Competition, published by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). The jury recognised the design as having architectural distinction that will add to Melbourne’s culturally diverse built heritage, while becoming an internationally recognised symbol of this city’s LGBTQI+ community. Two architecture companies united together for this project. Both with long histories in, and deep passion for, St Kilda. The project is a team effort including engineers, lighting designers, acoustic consultants, design for disability consultants and more. Consultations and workshops were carried out with the various user groups of the Centre. Consultation with a local artist and Yallukut Willam woman of the Boon Warrung people was undertaken throughout the design process. The high level of execution has been acknowledged by several professional bodies and organisations.

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA), Victorian chapter has awarded the VPC the 2022 William Wardell Award for Public Buildings. It is currently a finalist in the AIA National awards. World Architecture Forum (WAF), the peak international awards body, have made the project a finalist in the public building category and also interior architecture category. Driven x Design program gave the VPC the best Public and Institutional Architecture award as well as the Gold award for all categories for 2021.  The client statement below, along with the various awards, and alongside winning first place in the open design competition testify to the project meeting, and exceeding the highly complex brief. It exceeds the brief in numerous ways including: indigenous engagement and recognition; benefiting the life and safety along Fitzroy Street; strengthening the unique image of St Kilda; achieving high sustainability benchmarks; providing a surprising and extensive array of multifunction spaces within and atop the project.

Design Excellence

Sustainability – ESD The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) tool has been used to benchmark performance. The summary table below highlights the project’s achievement of a score in the highest bracket “Excellence”. The range of specific measures adopted across the design and recognised by this high BESS score are viewed as demonstrating a similar overall sustainability performance outcome to a 5 Star or better Green Star rating. The project received a commendation for sustainable architecture in the City of Port Phillip Design and Development Awards.

The following key principles were adopted by the project team and underpin the design approach:

  • minimise consumption of natural resources, including water and raw materials.
  • minimise environmental impacts through construction, including embodied energy and the ecological cost of materials.
  • minimise environmental impacts through operation, including energy consumption, waste creation and discharge of pollutants.
  • maintain comfortable internal temperatures while minimising energy use, providing a comfortable office environment year-round
  • create a healthy environment, including the reduction in the use of harmful VOCs in glues, sealants and paints, and protection from dust and other external airborne pollutants.
  • provide sustainable, integrated, convenient travel.
  • design that provides a sustainable outcome, avoiding over engineering and simplifying maintenance needs
  • promote urban ecology.

The Pride Centre is a highly visited by local, interstate and international visitors. The demand for tours by schools and work organisations is testament to the building’s appeal. This attraction is pivotal in the lives of thousands of young people in search of belonging and acceptance.

Design Innovation

Based on the client’s brief BAU and GAA carried out workshops and consultations with user groups as well as with the local indigenous community. 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 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, The Esplanade vaults, the dance halls, and other histories, all inform this process. A series of conceptual tubes emerged as an abstract armature that integrates the maximum urban envelope, structure and services, providing an overarching order, yet allowing for a flexible interior spaces. These conceptual tubes are then acted upon by extraction and by the specifics of the brief. The emergent and surprising outcome encourages difference, diversity, and inclusion, resulting in seemingly unfinished spaces; a concept which also reflects on the ongoing struggle towards equality of the LGBTQI+ communities.

The VPC aims to see beyond conventional uses and spaces, to challenge norms and hierarchies, to create a flexible and evolving program. Circulation radiates from the ellipsoid atrium, gathering related programs that are visually and spatially linked. The atrium provides many things: natural light, a performance stage, an informal amphitheatre, and a dynamic focus to the centre of the building. A sacrificial timber framework integrated within tenancy fronts enable tenants to adapt and experiment with the spaces, enabling the emergence of an authentic self-expression.

Design Impact

Like the Victorian Trades Hall this building is symbolic of important achievements, and more importantly is a place from which to continue the struggle for equality and inclusiveness. CEO of the Pride Centre has commented:

“The VPC is increasingly inspiring many people to visit and explore. With the slide-up door open the building is seamlessly integrating the streetscape, concierge desk, Pride Gallery and Forum, making the centre highly accessible, welcoming, and part of the neighbourhood. The Atrium has become both a place for performance (from speeches to photoshoots to DJ sets) and also a place of wonder and reflection. The rich variety of textures and materials, offering a tactile experience, is creating a feeling of comfort and sanctuary for users and visitors. There is a great sense of possibility, so important in LGBTIQ+ spaces.”

The principles of a Circular Economy have been applied in a variety of ways, most prominently it its reduction of superficial claddings by exposing the structural materials, externally and internally, and exposing the building services throughout the interior. The VPCs Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) achieves of a score in the highest bracket “Excellence”. (see ESD paragraph above). The building’s contribution to the reputation and status of Victoria’s design and creative culture has been witnessed by its recent awards. Internationally the VPC has been made a finalist in the WAF awards, the world’s foremost architecture awards. Nationally it is recognised by being made a finalist in the Australian Institute of Architecture National awards. Both of these are to be judged at the end of 2022.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

Circular Economy principles have been applied most prominently by reduction of superficial claddings, exposing structural materials and services externally and internally. Sustainability targets include: zero carbon operation; rainwater capture to meet WC and on-site irrigation needs; indigenous flora roof garden, forty seven bike parking spaces and five showers; zero-energy breeze paths utilising a stack effect; and a 10kW photovoltaic roof installation; stage two’s 11kW solar farm has been prepared. The following is prepared by Hip Vs Hype ESD Consultants.

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) tool has been used to benchmark performance. The summary table below highlights the project’s achievement of a score in the highest bracket “Excellence”. The range of specific measures adopted across the design and recognised by this high BESS score are viewed as demonstrating a similar overall sustainability performance outcome to a 5 Star or better Green Star rating.  BESS Assessment Category Project Points Management 100% Water 50% Energy 85% Stormwater 100% IEQ 33% (daylight is challenging as most walls abut neighbours) Transport 50% Waste 66% Urban Ecology 62% Innovation 100% TOTAL 71%

The following key principles were adopted by the project team and underpin the design approach:

  • minimise consumption of natural resources, including water and raw materials.
  • minimise environmental impacts through construction, including embodied energy and the ecological cost of materials.
  • minimise environmental impacts through operation, including energy consumption, waste creation and discharge of pollutants.
  • maintain comfortable internal temperatures while minimising energy use, providing a comfortable office environment year-round
  • create a healthy environment, including the reduction in the use of harmful VOCs in glues, sealants and paints, and protection from dust and other external airborne pollutants.
  • provide sustainable, integrated, convenient travel.
  • design that provides a sustainable outcome, avoiding over engineering and simplifying maintenance needs
  • promote urban ecology.

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