Back in the 1920s Harold Desbrowe-Annear had put forward the thought of an outdoors auditorium in a section of the King’s Domain. By the 1940s the idea of a sound dome was being discussed.
And in 1956 the Sidney Myer Charitable Trust invited two architectural firms, Yuncken Freeman Bros Griffiths & Simpson and Grounds Romberg and Boyd to work on a joint design scheme.
Harriet Edquist wrote a great article about the Bowl in Architecture Australia magazine. According to Romberg, Yuncken Freeman’s bright young man, Barry Patten, out of the blue, produced a dear little model of some tent structure held up by poles and tension cables – as you know the in-thing. At the meeting everybody fell in love with the idea and Yuncken Freeman got the job.
So tension cables were the in-thing. And they have stayed in.
Patten’s idea was a sound shell made from aluminium faced plywood panels suspended between a framework of steel wire ropes.
A very large canopy of grids to create the perfect performance space.
Gregory Burgess Architects did a really good refurbishment in the early 1990s. So good you hardly realise a whole lot of replacement went on.
The building remains an acoustically perfect, floating national treasure.