Moonah Arts Centre

The $4 million multi-award winning Moonah Arts Centre is the latest arrival in Hobart’s flourishing arts community, joining an elite band in the city’s north that includes the nearby Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Derwent Entertainment Centre and Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park (GASP).


  • Architect: Morrison Breytenbach
  • Engineer: Aldanmark Consulting Engineer
  • Fabricator: Vos Glass and Glazing

About the project

The $4 million multi-award winning Moonah Arts Centre is the latest arrival in Hobart’s flourishing arts community, joining an elite band in the city’s north that includes the nearby Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Derwent Entertainment Centre and Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park (GASP).

While MONA has rocketed Tasmania into the international arts stratosphere, the Moonah Arts Centre is designed to deliver at the other end of the spectrum, fostering artistic development at grass-roots in the local community.

The Glenorchy City Council-owned and operated arts centre was based in an old church for more than 20 years before it moved into its new purpose-built facility on the site of a former car park behind Moonah’s central retail strip. Hobart-based architects Morrison Breytenbach designed the facility to host community performances, exhibitions and creative workshops and as a local social hub.

The project’s Morrison Breytenbach design and construction by leading Tasmanian builder Vos Construction and Joinery earned considerable acclaim at state and national level.

The Tasmanian Australian Institute of Architects jury recognised the project in the 2015 Tasmanian Awards, presenting both the Alan C Walker Award for Public Architecture and the Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture. Later in the year the centre won the National Public Buildings Award – under $5 million in the 2015 Master Builders Australia Awards.

The centre features four principal spaces expressed in simple, bold form to spotlight creation, performance and exhibition. Project architect James Morrison describes the building as a series of interlinked and flexible spaces with a light box for exhibition, a sound box for performance, a treasure box for creation and an outdoor space for relating. The architects used the site’s north-facing street frontage to draw light through the centre via a ‘mini-piazza’ at the building’s entrance and the courtyard connecting the buildings.

The treasure box or making workshop’s Zincalume cladding has a suitably opalescent feel and is a historical reference to the Electrolytic Zinc Works. The black box of the performance space is separated from the foyer with a skylight that draws in light and adds drama. The multi-function performance space is acoustically designed for music and theatre with a sprung dance floor and zigzagging walls double as folding panels that can form a seamless space with the foyer.

The exhibition space has a polycarbonate north-facing wall that delivers gentle and constant natural daylight.

Morrison says the spaces can be interlinked to form larger spaces or retained as specialist zones, making the centre highly adaptable. The performance space opens to the foyer, which in turn opens to the courtyard. The courtyard links the foyer and making workshop and the exhibition space can open to include a smaller alcove.

“We designed the Moonah Arts Centre with a focus on function, flexibility and economy as a series of neutral spaces to foster arts activity. We wanted the building’s layout and materials to provide a high level of transparency to showcase local arts.

“We designed the building so it wouldn’t dominate its subject. The extensive glazing provides abundant light and view lines and forms a neutral backdrop to the centre’s happenings.”

Built on the site of a former carpark, the centre’s design was constrained by the size of the site, particularly as the architects had decided to keep the building on a single level for access and economy.

Morrison says the use of high quality off-the-shelf Australian made materials played a key role in the centre’s design and construction.

“We also had to stay with a $3.3 million budget for the design and build so we decided to keep the materials straightforward wherever possible, selecting from standard, widely available product ranges.

“By using standard materials the centre was affordable and easy to build, achieving its delivery and budget targets.”

Morrison says they chose Capral because its systems are high quality, easy to use and install and widely available.

“We like the simplicity of the Capral systems and the fact that a lot of manufacturers use them. We can get a lot of window manufacturers to quote on them whereas a less available system usually leads to customised pricing.

“The 425 series and 35W awning windows all make nice clean lines and suit the pared back aesthetic we wanted for the centre. Capral’s Artisan Bi-fold doors are available up to three metres high which suited our purpose and they’re very solid,” Morrison says.

Vos Glass and Aluminium project manager John Friend says they welcomed the specification of Capral on the Moonah Arts project which they use fairly exclusively unless a project specifies otherwise.

He says aside from the quality of its products, Capral’s strong presence in Tasmania and its excellent customer relationships make it a very easy company to work with.

“We deal with Capral because we have a very good relationship with them and their products are tried and true.”


Morrison Breytenbach specified a raft of environmental initiatives to create a highly energy efficient building that maximises the use of renewable energy. The building’s passive solar design uses orientation, solar radiation for space heating and high insulation levels through double glazing and wall, roof and slab insulation.

They specified Capral’s 425 Series to create crisp, clean aesthetic lines and contain the high performance double glazing used throughout the centre. The AGS 425 Narowline framing system was developed specifically for energy efficient double glazing. Modelled on the AGS 400 Narrowline framing system, it integrates seamlessly to allow design flexibility between single and double glazed systems.

It is ideal for commercial or residential projects that require a bold modern look and high levels of structural and thermal performance. In the Moonah Arts project it was used in 35W Awning Windows, the Genesis Servery Window, 200 Series Hinged Doors and ARTISAN Bi-fold doors.


ARTISAN Bi-fold doors were used in the centre to create free flowing indoor to outdoor space from the foyer to the courtyard. Artisan’s Effortless Motion Technology is used with Capral’s AGS ‘Smart Hinge’ and the ‘Easy Gliding’ Channel to create the smoothest bi-fold door available. The Artisan folding door combines aluminium with marine grade stainless-steel components delivering exceptional weather tightness and security with outstanding environmental and structural performance. Its features also include heavy duty roller, capable of taking 75 kilogram load per panel, the AGS multi-point locking system, multiple sill options including channel, flat and high performance and up to four point locking system allowing dual side entry.


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