Somerset Times

The Stage is Set

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 6, Term Two, 2019

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The concrete may never set at Somerset College but in the case of The Suzanne Roberts Centre for Performing Arts (‘Rob’ for short – it might catch on?) and the new Design Centre, I hope it is now rock hard, as we enter the finishing stages! Indeed, the ‘Rob’ will have passed practical completion this week and already the site fences are down to reveal an amazing new foyer inside the main gates of the College.

The Suzanne Roberts Centre for Performing Arts

This foyer, named after Terry Herbert our long serving Vice-Chair of the College Board who recently retired, is made distinctive by ribbed wood veins in the vaulted ceiling creating a wave appearance from wherever you stand. A subtle wave also appears in the entrance carpet and together they create an airy, spacious feel but, functionally, it is all designed for optimal acoustic performance, so it will be quite easy for the bartender to hear your order from the hundreds buzzing around. I personally look forward to testing that feature…a few times.

Inside the auditorium there is more new styling and hopefully a whole new sound experience; the dark arts practiced by sound engineers have targeted the sounds you like to hear and deadened the echoes of those pesky sound waves that were once free to bounce around. Of course, the elephant in the room, that extra nine metres of additional height, (great for advertising to Somerset Drive or passing space tourists), we hope you don’t see: this is our ‘fly tower’ where complete scene changes can be ‘dropped’ in seconds from above, on high speed hoists. Likely this technology will lead to redundancy amongst our student theatre gaffers, but it may spark a new relationship with the sailing club who are used to hoisting and winching and…. Ducking, but this is so much more advanced!

Almost every room has been improved and some have been significantly extended, which saves music rehearsals from competing with space from filing cabinets and, no, Sue we don’t want to store another ten years’ worth of props and costumes – reader keep me to it – as I know I’ll be blown away by the next amazing production!

The students will also love the new ‘Black box’ theatre, created within this scope of works, which is a versatile and innovative space for students to experiment with all aspects of the theatrical experience. We are all very excited to see the first Senior Musical in the Suzanne Roberts Centre for Performing Arts on June 18 to 20, hope to see you there!

Design Centre

Following closely behind, the new Design Centre shall be ready for the start of Term Three. Featuring prominently in the Quad vista, this sharp modern design will be sure to attract interest from visitors and students alike. For the last few weeks the stunning three-storey high elliptical light shaft has been exposed for all to see through a cross-section of the building structure. However, this week this cavity is slowly being masked by an enormous perforated screen and these perforations are designed to look like a watermark print in the image of trees. I’ll be intrigued to see if they succeed in creating an image we all recognise or I’ll have to resort to the functional explanation for these patterns of perforations which is that they are accurately aligned with the movements of the sun for perfect shading and interior climate control!

The Design Centre will soon have a ‘skybridge’ (a la Bridge of Sighs) to the neighbouring Rudkin building but in our case, we hope the journey across is more euphoric (Bridge of Wows perhaps) as we mesh together the disciplines of Fine Arts, Engineering, Computer Design, Multi-Media and Entrepreneurship. Really a hub of great skills for tomorrows careers, businesses and research – many of which we can’t put a name to in 2019!

I’ll save a run down of all the gadgetry inside these buildings for another episode but there’s everything from CNC laser cutters and Tesla style batteries to Hydroponic gardens! The students will lap it up!

Time to pour fresh concrete again: wait for imminent news of our next major pivotal campus development!

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