The home of architecture and design in Asia-Pacific

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

HOTA Gallery makes its mark on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast’s new HOTA Gallery engages with the post-modern city in a casual surfside manner, coming to life through an organic, Voronoi concept.

HOTA Gallery makes its mark on the Gold Coast

How can an entire cultural precinct be planned over a long stretch of time, yet emerge from the ground in a way that has the built-in ability to adapt?

It was the seed of an idea that led to Melbourne-based ARM Architecture winning a competition to design the Gold Coast’s new world-class Home of the Arts (HOTA) precinct.

Encompassing an outdoor stage, parklands and the most recent addition, a vertical gallery complete with rooftop bar, the HOTA precinct has been growing bit by bit.

“We knew in the first instance that all of the individual phases and projects would change drastically – and they have over the last seven years,” says ARM Architecture director, Jesse Judd. Which is where the core concept of a “self-seeding geometry” emerged.

A person stands looking out the large geometric windows of HOTA, across a green field towards a series of skyscrapers.

Drawing on the biological world, the team explored a master planning concept based on Voronoi structures; an organic, cellular framework found throughout the natural environment.

“Think of leaf veins, the wings of a butterfly, or a pineapple skin,” shares Judd.

The vision for the precinct uses these cellular geometries, with different elements of the project conceived as cells of different scales and applied in a range of ways.

The forms can be seen in the welcome gardens, the canopy at the front door, the geometry of the arrival sequence, and most viscerally in the façade treatment that Judd describes as being “draped over the building”.

The colour palette on the façade, while undoubtedly bright and abstracted, has been colour-picked from an iconic William Robinson painting that was a key acquisition for the gallery.

The white interior of HOTA gallery with zig-zagged modular lighting and an irregularly sized geometric skylight.

While the original piece is quite dark and moody, the bright spots of colour have been highlighted and extrapolated.

“All the bright spots in the painting are like hidden gems in the art itself, and that’s kind of what the Gold Coast is.”

The Gold Coast is a city that is constantly reinventing itself and reimagining its position and, much in the same way, Judd sees the architecture providing an opportunity for transformation.

A core part of the brief revolved around aspirational aspects: to create a contemporary, experience-led gallery design.

A green balcony section of HOTA looking over the Gold Coast.

As Judd confirms, it was about creating “a genuinely cultural experience, where culture is defined by the human experience”.

Positioning itself as more than a box to view art in, HOTA engages with a broader view of culture, and in turn the community.

From being able to have a swim, see a show on the outdoor stage, walk through a gallery and take in an exhibition before having a cocktail on the rooftop, every step of the journey is a reflection of the laid-back nature of Surfers Paradise, albeit elevated through art and design.

As a statement for a new era of the Gold Coast, the gallery needed to embody a “twin mood” – standing as a beacon in the landscape, while on the interior inversing to be a space of subdued sanctuary that allows the art to be centre stage.

Following this line of thinking, the vivid cellular façade forms give way to quiet, contemplative spaces of soothing white. The project’s program includes a touring gallery space for significant exhibitions, alongside a children’s and workshop gallery to house the permanent collection.

With a long tradition of acquiring art for the city, this new space is now the permanent vessel for these pieces be proudly displayed.

Experientially, the interiors incorporate in-between spaces to pause, reflect and refresh; and also offer glimpses of the ‘art machine’ in action.

This is most apparent in how the behind-the-scenes of the gallery has been made public.

A person sits on a black leather bench in a charcoal and white gallery space.

“We have designed opportunities to peek into the back-of-house and so part of the main foyer has a view into the storage, where you can see the inner workings of the gallery and intricacies of the collection, even when it’s not on show,” says Judd.

Connecting the ground-floor exhibition space up to the top of the six-level tower is a meandering, winding staircase. Lined in timber and hugging the edge, the stair captures expansive views across Nerang River, adding an unexpected yet democratic thoroughfare not common for an art gallery.

The verticality plays into the towering vertical high rises that the Gold Coast is renowned for.

“If you’re going to have a vertical art gallery, where would you have it, if not the Gold Coast?” muses Judd, confirming that the immersive journey is best experienced starting at the top of the gallery and winding your way down the stairs.

HOTA Gallery and the precinct it sits within are a veritable hub for a city that is defining its own voice.

Judd confirms the local council had “an incredibly brave vision, wanting to create a cultural heart”.

Which is worth highlighting given the project has been driven and funded by the local council, not the state government.

It’s an attitude that will no doubt continue to germinate and evolve over time, just like the precinct itself.

ARM Architecture

Brett Boardman

This story originally appeared in Indesign Magazine #84Subscribe now.

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed