Schematics for Roxy - Misc. AU
Schematics for Roxy

Schematics for Roxy

Words by RAA Architects

The following diagrams provide a simple explanation of the recently submitted concept design for the Roxy Theatre, Parramatta. This initial stage is a ‘proof of concept’ proposal that show a design can work on what is a very tricky site.


The street level (purple) is an active zone with restaurants, bars, shops, access to the function space and the lobby to the commercial tower. It is opened up to the east and west to maximise permeability and to add to the activity in the proposed pedestrianised Civic Link.
The existing Roxy Theatre (shown yellow), is to be restored and reactivated as a multi-purpose space, providing for cinema, lectures, performances, functions and the like.
New multi-purpose and event spaces (shown red), add to existing Roxy Theatre, by providing a complex of event and function areas. This, importantly, adds much needed new public spaces to the City of Parramatta.
Above the public uses, 22 floors (26 floors including design excellence) of office space (shown blue) provides commercial viability to the restoration of the heritage building, but also a massive injection of capital and jobs to the Parramatta City Commercial Centre.
A floor of mechanical services (shown orange), depending on further mechanical engineer’s advice, may be located anywhere within the office floors.
The proposed uses will provide a strong benefit, socially and commercially, to Parramatta and will provide for the ongoing vitalisation of the Roxy.


The key structural challenge in this project is the construction and structural support of a 27 storey tower over an existing heritage building.

A structural design report has been prepared by DBCE Consulting as part of this Concept DA. It outlines possible solutions to the structural challenge.
In this proposal, a series of perimeter columns (blue) makes use of the strip of land either side of the existing building. Once above the Roxy auditorium, a set of beams span the width of the building to provide support to existing ceiling of the Roxy theatre below and the event floor and roof terrace above. During construction, this floor structure (red) provides a working platform to protect the existing building during construction.
The perimeter columns then continue up over a column-free event space. At the ceiling height of the event space, composite trusses are proposed as a transfer structure to transfer the load from the central set of columns in the office spaces to the perimeter columns below.
The southern part of the site is utilized for the core (yellow) and loading/service areas on the ground level and office floor plate above.
An efficient and economical structural system is critical to the success of the proposal and will need to be explored in the Design Competition stage of the project.


The scheme proposes that the main entrance to the existing Roxy theatre becomes the new main entrance for the entire building. The activation of George Street and the use of the forecourt as the entry will create a meeting point and social hub in the city core.
For convenience and additional links east-west, as well as connection to the future Civic Link, secondary access from the west and the east are proposed to provide a more direct connection to the rear of the building where the lobby vertical circulation is located.
The new lifts and stairs are situated at the rear of the site (south) behind the existing Roxy Theatre. This allows the Roxy Theatre to remain intact and clear of any intrusions. A bank of public lifts (3) and open stairs (2) serves the bottom 5 floors of the building, which are proposed to be public uses. The 26 floors of office spaces above are served by 3 banks of lifts (9 total) that each  specialise in different floors (low, mid, high) to minimise waiting times. Escape stairs (2) serve as required exits for all floors. A goods lift provides goods access to every floor of the building.


This reference design put in place some simple devices that will provide a strong relationship between the valuable heritage aspects of the Roxy and the new tower.
The forecourt, arches and front facade of the Roxy are proposed to be returned to their former glory. A podium is created at the same height as the top of the Roxy. This datum separates the visually (and physically) active part of the building on the lower levels from the calm tower structure sitting above. Below the datum are the original Roxy facades, the cafes and shop and new pedestrian activity of the Civic Link. The building will open up to the civic link to the west and the at-grade carpark to the east to encourage street activity and public interaction with the Roxy.
The new low facades are scaled to respond to this with a busier break-up and more openings. This also helps to identify and separate the original building form from the proposed tower. Above the datum is a simple facade that provides an appropriate backdrop for the exuberant detail of the Roxy. The base of the north facade is angled to give additional breathing space to the Roxy’s north facade and to create a rooftop garden.
The facade detail, part of the future detailed DA submission, will need to consider views, solar access, and environmental performance. Shading and building integrated PV systems have been recommended in the ESD report as part of this Concept DA.

Recommended reading