INTERIOR DESIGN - FIT OUT - BRANDING
This is a special building that had been sitting partially dormant for more than a decade... smack in the middle of Airlie Beach. The building is 4 levels with 2 of them (over 2000sqm of space) sitting vacant with no tenant the entire time the current owners had the building.
This led owner Paul Wellard to start thinking he needed to create something that is missing in Airlie Beach... something the town needs. I have been personally watching the building for years and my overactive brain has constantly thought up random ideas of what would be perfect to suit the space!
Pre-GFC, a cinema chain had wanted the rooftop space for a cinema... something Airlie Beach has needed for a long time. Paul started having conversations with everyone... we identified what was missing on the mainland and set about creating a multipurpose space.
The WACC aka Whitsunday Arts & Cultural Centre opened late 2014. Spread across 2 levels, The WACC features 2 bars, a rooftop cinema, 2 main function rooms with fully-equipped stages, excellent audio visual facilities and 2 break out meeting rooms.
The WACC is the largest purpose designed space for all types of events on the Whitsunday mainland. The building is an arts and cultural precinct, the interior design innovation in spatial planning is unconventional and fun. The space is fluid and its core business is weddings, functions, parties, conferences and events including the rooftop cinema.
The WACC stirs conversation and the venue is purpose designed to create plenty of photographic backdrops for weddings and events.
You enter the building via the discovery space that captures the stories of the region, the bars are styled from relics that represent the tropical lifestyle and tapestry of the local community throughout time.
Ground level is home to the DeMartini Room & Bar. The DeMartini Bar has a warehouse chic feel, it’s an intimate space with an industrial edge featuring a re-purposed bar from a vintage caravan, beautiful concrete polished floors, dance floor and a combination of new and classic antique furnishings.
The concept is to start your event in The DeMartini Bar, the plantation shutters open up to flow seamlessly into the Demartini Room with modern, clean lines and a natural palette, the room can be dressed with decor to suit any theme.
Level one is inspired by tropical Queensland life, featuring the Porter Bar and the signature Harper Room. The Porter Bar is a quirky and interactive room, with murals, wallpapers, dance floor and live music area.
The Harper Room is an outdoor space with rooftop cinema, it features a terrace balcony with ocean views overlooking the main event space. The room has beautifully restored rustic features with a contemporary edge, covered in a canopy of fairy lights and vertical gardens framed by the backdrop of gum trees and a star-filled skyline.
The most humbling part of this project was the warmness and generosity shown by the local community. Homes were opened up, roast dinners cooked, photos got shared and stories told. Farm paddocks were roamed and many historic relics were recovered and generously donated by local businesses and families. Janet & Ralph Hogan even gave me access to Villa Botanica to propogate cuttings to create our vertical garden from the largest private cacti collection in Australia.
Hayman Island and Lindeman Island donated barge loads of old fittings and fixtures, the truck would be unloaded and we’d get to work figuring out how to re-purpose the old treasures!
Tips and salvage yards were scoured... simple items like old scaffolding planks were converted into dry bars and bench seating. Pallets were converted into vertical gardens, planter boxes and a mini grandstand for kids to enjoy the cinema.
My favourite relic is the vintage neon sign from the roof of the iconic bar Charlie’s that featured on Airlie's main street for years. My former partner and I salvaged the iconic ‘Round the Bend’ sign from the roof 10 years ago and it sat hidden under our deck waiting to have a use. It was always meant to become our bar but was way to big for residential use! I love it when a local walks into the entrance of the WACC and they instantly smile at the nostalgia of seeing this sign with its new purpose as the meet and greet entrance feature.
PAINT A BOX.
I felt we needed to bring as much ‘art’ as possible into the space, so I initiated a ‘paint a box’ campaign to create seating for the rooftop outdoor cinema area. The boys on site fabricated plywood box seats as cubes and we did a call out to local artists to paint a box and express themselves. It was so much fun watching the boxes come back daily with all styles of artwork!
The WACC is what it is today, because of the generosity of the community, and this is reflected in the stories told within the walls.
Planning phase is now underway for the final collation of the history and stories of the pioneers and people that have shaped Airlie Beach into the town it is today. The entire completion of the cultural centre and art space will take more than a year.
So many people donated free time or worked for less than minimum wage to get this business ready to open its doors. I learnt more about giving, honesty, authenticity and integrity working on this site than any other project.
A huge thank you to these two photographers!
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