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History > Archive/Research > Former King’s Cinema, Rose Bay North. Heritage Impact Assessment.

10529: History > Archive/Research

submitted by Graham Brooks & Associates on 27.05.2006

Former King’s Cinema, Rose Bay North. Heritage Impact Assessment.

January 2002
HERITAGE IMPACT ASSESSMENT
Gerard Thomas Associates


GRAHAM BROOKS AND ASSOCIATES PTY LTD
ARCHITECTS AND
HERITAGE CONSULTANTS


[Background:

Coles Myer Property Developments Ltd purchased and developed the site.

In 2003, Architects, Gerard Thomas and Associates, submitted a development application to Whoolhara Council.

Australia's second largest grocery chain Coles was to be the anchor tenant in the retail part of the development. 2 Commercial offices were incorporated into the development. The upper levels of the development included 9 residential units.

As part of the Development Application, Graham Brooks and Associates, Architects and Heritage Consultants, were commissioned to draft a Heritage Impact Assessment, which they presented to Council in January 2002.

Graham Brooks & Associates
Lvl 1/ 71 York St Sydney 2000
(02) 9299 8600
Fax (02) 9299 8711

Email, Graham Brooks & Associates
www.gbaheritage.com

In March 2006, the development was completed, and Coles supermarket opened for business.

The Developer and the Heritage Architects have done extraordinarily well in maintaining the unique external appearance of the original Kings Theatre.

- Editor
]

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.0 INTRODUCTION 3
1.1 CONTEXT OF THE STUDY 3
1.2 METHODOLOGY AND STRUCTURE of the report 3
1.3 DOCUMENTARY SOURCES 3
1.4 AUTHORSHIP 4
1.5 SITE IDENTIFICATION 4
2.0 HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT 5
2.1 HISTORY OF THE AREA 5
2.2 EARLY HISTORY AND INITIAL development OF THE SITE 6
2.3 ERECTION OF THE ROSE BAY CINEMA, 1935 6
2.4 subsequent history 9
2.4.1 CINEMA OPERATIONS, 1935-1958 9
2.4.2 CONVERSION TO CLOTHING FACTORY, 1958 9
2.4.3 COMBINED USE WITH ADJOINING SITE 10
2.4.4 FURTHER ALTERATIONS, c. 1975 10
3.0 DESCRIPTION 19
3.1 sTREETSCAPE 19
3.2 Heritage items in the vicinity 19
4.0 ASSESSMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE 32
4.1 COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS 32
4.1.1 OTHER CINEMAS LISTED IN NSW 32
4.1.2 THE ROSE BAY NORTH CINEMA IN CONTEXT OF ITS DATE AND STYLE 32
4.2 HERITAGE OFFICE CRITERIA 35
4.3 ASSESSMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE 36
4.4 Schedule of significant fabric 37
4.4.1 HIGH SIGNIFICANCE 37
4.4.2 MODERATE SIGNIFICANCE 38
4.4.3 LITTLE SIGNIFICANCE 38
4.4.4 INTRUSIVE ELEMENTS 38
5.0 HERITAGE IMPACT ASSESSMENT 39
5.1 THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT 39
5.2 ASSESSMENT AGAINST HERITAGE OFFICE CRITERIA 40
MINOR PARTIAL DEMOLITION 40
CHANGE OF USE 41
NEW DEVELOPMENT ADJACENT TO A HERITAGE ITEM 41
6.0 CONCLUSIONS 43


1.0

INTRODUCTION

1.1. CONTEXT OF THE STUDY


This Heritage Impact Assessment has been prepared by Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd to assess the heritage significance of the former King’s The Cinema, Rose Bay, and the likely impact of the proposed works to that significance. The report has been prepared at the request of owners of the building represented by Mr Gerard Thomas, the Architect of the proposed redevelopment.
This report finds that the impact of the proposed works to the cinema building is acceptable primarily as they do not detract from the heritage value of the cinema building
and that likely impact satisfies the relevant Heritage Office criteria. The building is a relatively good example of its style and a remainder of the Kings chain of cinemas, although its integrity has been compromised. The front and side façades also have significance for their visual prominence in the local area.
The subject building was erected in 1935. It is an identified item in the Heritage Schedules of the Woollahra LEP. The heritage listing extends only over the former Cinema building, on lot 23. The adjoined former supermarket, on lot 22, is not included in the heritage listing.

1.2 METHODOLOGY AND STRUCTURE of the report

Research into the history and development of the site and building was undertaken to determine their historical ownership and development.

A detailed site inspection was conducted in December 2001 to assess the fabric and integrity of the building. The site inspection included an assessment of the building in relation to its surrounding context, including the character and scale of the adjoining and nearby elements of the streetscape.

The format of the report and assessment procedure follows the standard format of preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments as set out in the NSW Heritage Manual.

1.3 DOCUMENTARY SOURCES

Sources utilised in the formulation of the historical background and understanding of the significance of the building are from the Mitchell Library, the Woollahra Library Local History Section and the Woollahra Council. Primary sources included the Sands Directory, the Land Titles Office documents, Water Board historic plans and the Woollahra Council Heritage Database. Additional sources were consulted on the cultural significance of the cinemas in general and the analysis of the heritage value of the Rose Bay cinema in particular, including the Movie Theatre Heritage Register for NSW prepared by Ross Thorne, Les Tod and Kevin Cork, the Pictorial History of Sydney’s Cinemas by Barry Sharp, a history of the chain of Kings cinemas, For All The Kings Men by Ross Thorne and Kevin Cork, and the Report to the Woollahra Municipal Council on the Heritage Significance of the building at 696 Old South Head Road, prepared by Ross Thorne in July 1997.

1.4 AUTHORSHIP

This assessment has been prepared by Zoran Popovic, Heritage Consultant of Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, and reviewed by Graham Brooks, Director.
All contemporary photographs of the site and buildings were taken in December 2001 by Zoran Popovic, specifically for the preparation of this report.

1.5 SITE IDENTIFICATION

The proposed redevelopment concerns premises of 694 and 696 Old South Head Road, Rose Bay, located on the corner of Old South Head Road and Dudley Road. The heritage listing extends only over the former Cinema building, at 696 Old South Head Road while the adjoined former supermarket, at 694 Old South Head Road, is not included in the heritage listing. The allotments of 694 and 696 Old South Head Road are roughly trapezium in shape, jointly measure c. 37 by 43 metres and comprise, respectively, lots 22 and 23 of the Section 2, DP 6295.

[Picture: Location Plan]

2.0

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

2.1 HISTORY OF THE AREA


Rose Bay, overlooking Port Jackson, became a popular location for wealthy colonists from 1830s. The main axis of development of the neighbourhood was the South Head Road (later: Old South Head Road) leading through Vaucluse to the strategic entry to the Harbour. The name of the area was chosen by Governor Arthur Phillip to honour Sir George Rose, his friend and mentor.

A number of large estates were created through Crown Grants in the early 19th century. The most important of these was probably the estate of 60 acres, granted in 1812 to Samuel Breakwell. Breakwell’s residence Tivoli was altered several times, including the redesign by John Horbury Hunt in the 1880s, and eventually became the Kambala School for girls. Most of the early estates were subdivided and sold for individual development in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The area flourished after the introduction of the tram service in the 1880s. Another important local landmark, the Rose Bay Convent, was founded in 1882 by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearth. The remarkable Chapel of the Convent was another John Horbury Hunt’s design. The Scots College in Victoria Street was founded in 1893.

[Picture: Tram on the New South Head Road (c.1890), Historical Photograph.]

2.2 EARLY HISTORY AND INITIAL development OF THE SITE

The subject building is located on part of the 60 acres originally granted to Samuel Breakwell in 1831. The land changed ownership several times, but was not developed for another century. In 1914, the land was under ownership of Percy Lucas, who had subdivided it for sale.
Lot 23 of Section D of Lucas’ estate was purchased in October 1916 by Daniel Levy, Solicitor of Sydney, along with five other lots in different areas of the original estate. In May 1924, Levy sold lot 23 to George Wells of Sydney, Merchant. It appears that Wells built a structure on the site, as a “shop” in the “front part” of the property was leased to one Leonard Morris, Agent, from June 1929 until February 1935.

Lot 22 of the same subdivision was sold with a larger portion of land comprising lots 17-22. It was transferred from Lucas to Harriet Delohery in 1916. It was next sold separately, to Alfred King of Homebush, Chemist, in March 1923 and from him to Mary Jones, Spinster, in April of the same year. In August 1927, lot 22 came into the ownership of Bernie Pettingell of Croydon, Clerk. The lot was sold in December 1945 to Mildred Fisk, wife of Herbert Fisk of Queens Park, Master Butcher.

In March 1946, lot 22 came under ownership of Australian Food Stores Pty Ltd. Constructional details of the existing structure on the lot indicate that it was built around this date. In November 1948, the property was sold to Boyco Pty Ltd, the clothing company that eventually also purchased lot 23, containing the former cinema building.

2.3 ERECTION OF THE ROSE BAY CINEMA, 1935

Lot 23 was redeveloped in 1935, when it came under ownership of the Better Theatres Pty Ltd, the company that owned and operated the famous Kings Cinemas.
The Kings Cinemas chain was a unique system, combining well-planned architectural design with business skills to achieve high financial returns. The use of advanced technology and other features likely to attract patrons, along with progressive ideas of management, was without precedent in Australia. The Kings enterprise was described as follows:
In 1934 the initial theatre of this chain of ultra-modern style Sydney suburban houses was launched at Mosman. George Webster and Guy Crick teamed as a showman and an architect, respectively, and were joint managing directors of the companies which developed the circuit. Each thoroughly versed in his own profession, the merging of their separate ideas was a logical experiment, but they launched into a field of heavy competition; an experiment which needed plenty of courage and the utmost confidence in what they had to offer.

The factors contributing to the success, which commenced right with their first theatre and continued after, embrace a near perfection regarding comfort, service, sound reproduction quality and general presentation standard.
The modern style characterising the design, impressed the public as unique and such innovations as Dunlopillo seating, air-conditioning, carpeted stairways and general fittings of the same luxurious turn as the city theatres, impressed the suburbanites, to such effect that soon their "intimate-style” luxury cinema found its place in suburb after suburb, each additional venture duplicating the success of the other.

George Webster started with the Late William J. Howe, at Bondi Junction, in 1928 and was with Hoyt’s at the Kinema, Mosman for three years immediately prior to linking with Guy Crick. His individuality in design of exterior and interior, plus the many original features embodied in the general construction introduced a new importance to the shows in suburban centres. George Webster controlled the business end of the entire circuit, as general manager.

The theatre managers were carefully selected and many of them were young men straight from the great public schools. All members of the staff and executives were thoroughly trained for a month in various theatres before assuming their post. Managers were intensively trained in the fine points of showmanship, publicity, diplomacy, business principles and general features peculiar to the running of a theatre. To encourage the personal interest and to assure a reward for effort, managers too were made shareholders in the company controlling the theatre.

The launching of a two shows a day policy was an experiment made under the heading of service, previously not tried out by other suburban houses at the time. After a short period this policy proved sound from the box-office side in many centres.
Messrs Guy Crick and the Late Bruce Furse were architects in conjunction for all theatres on the extensive Kings circuit, as well as many of Australia's leading suburban and country houses.

In 1946 Greater Union acquired control of the Kings Theatre Circuit. [1]

The Rose Bay North Cinema was one of the early Kings’ cinemas, opening in 1935. The building was designed under the influence of Functionalist, or mainstream Modernist architecture of the 1930s, generally deprived of applied decoration or ornamentation. A certain level of influence of the German Expressionist architectural style was also noted. [1] However, influences of Art Deco style are also notable and include the ornamented ceilings, both in halls and in the stalls, and several minor applications to the façade.

The cinema was praised in contemporary press for its modern features and functionality. Alderman W. F. Foster who opened the building congratulated the architects and directors for: …such a capacious building on a comparatively small area of land. It was a fine achievement and he felt that the theatre would be a success.” [1]

The cinema was described in the Building magazine of 12 August 1935 [1], noting that:
The new King’s Theatre at Rose Bay is an excellent example of designing in three dimensions, which perhaps, after all, is one of the greatest contributions of modern architecture. In order to relieve the straight lines and flat surfaces of the main structure, Guy Crick, A.R.A.I.A., the designer, has adopted, two curves as the main feature of the facade. These are entirely unrelieved by mouldings at the summit and are of unequal dimensions, yet the horizontal fenestration is so constituted that the result and proportions are quite pleasing. The large vertical lighting sign also plays an important part in the design, as does the curved awning which fits snugly into the angle. The larger curve is outward evidence of the circular foyer which is entered straight from the street, and whence access is gained by going down one or two steps to the stalls and up a flight of stairs to the dress circle. The box office is situated in this central space. Immediately above this circular entrance foyer is the lounge to the circle, which follows a similar shape and is tastefully furnished for the comfort of patrons.

The auditorium, which is designed to accommodate 700, curves gently inwards towards the proscenium, while the ceiling, which is practically plain with the exception of a central motif that runs right from the top of the proscenium and along the centre of the theatre, steps up in a series of gentle curves over the circle. The treatment of the wall surfaces is particularly attractive, being a species of textured finish which has been specially thought out to provide the best effects under the strip lighting that runs along on both sides of the theatre in a concealed channel.

Another interesting feature of the theatre is that all windows are fitted with lightproof louvres so that during matinee performances it is not necessary to close the windows, but full natural ventilation is continuously maintained, which is an excellent innovation from a health standpoint. Guy Crick, A.R.A.I.A. was the designer and C. G. Gray Ltd., were the builders.

The whole of the projecting plant, which embodies the very latest equipment, was supplied by Harringtons Limited, while the following firms and sub-contractors were connected with the contract: Painter and decorator, F. H. Sutherland; fibrous plaster, G. R. Lumb and Sons; wrought iron work, F. Cavanagh and the Sydney Ornamental Steel Co.; lighting fittings by J. Steele; neon lighting, Claude Neon Aust. Ltd.; electrical wiring, R. McBride; Paxfelt was used as an acoustic material; rubber flooring to vestibule, Jones and Joseph Ltd.; furnishings, Mason and Hart; seating, ""Dunlopillo" chairs, A. N. Thomson & Co.; flush doors, Beale & Company Ltd
. [1]

The cinema was realised in white-painted rendered masonry, with four main floor levels and with a stepped gabled terracotta tiled roof behind a stepped parapet. The two storey front wing, facing the corner, was built as a pair of cylindrical forms, with a cantilevered steel awning over the corner area and a set of lined windows as decoration. The main facade above the lower curved forms was created as symmetrically stepped, with a projection box at the top. A short flight of terrazzo steps lead from the road into the circular foyer. To the south was a single storey shop, originally the theatre milk bar with a separate footpath steel awning. The milk-bar, providing patrons with refreshments, was a common auxiliary feature of most cinemas built in the interwar period, strongly integrated with the cinema function as it was used primarily by the cinema patrons before the show.

To the North elevation the main facade stepped to the rear, followed by some rendered decoration. The West elevation was a projecting rectangular façade. The entrance doors were of painted timber and windows generally were steel framed or part timber framed. A number of windows, mainly on the West elevation, were created as circular, tops of parapets were stepped and the façades decorated with vertical and horizontal banded mouldings.

A notable space on the first floor level was the circular lobby, created as a part of the original dress circle. The lobby followed the plan of the ground floor foyer and featured some similar decoration, including the cornices. Off the lobby were located the toilets, which remain unaltered and generally intact, although in bad repair, until today.
The land adjoined to the south of the cinema property was vacant at the time the Cinema was built. The cinema building line, not following the property boundary, indicates that the two lots were possibly used in conjunction with each other. A certain sense of joint use remained in the following decades, particularly after the supermarket building was erected in 1946.

2.4 subsequent history

2.4.1 CINEMA OPERATIONS, 1935-1958


The Rose Bay North Cinema was opened in June 1935 and operated for the next 23 years. Its exterior remained largely intact, as the footprint of the existing structure generally matches the one shown in the historic Water Board plan SDS 3545 dated c. 1939. Initially, the cinema operated under the ownership of the Better Theatres Pty Ltd. It was leased to Mr E. Smythe from March 1939, but remained in the Kings Theatres chain until 1947. In 1941, a part of the ownership was transferred to W. J. Dunlop and the Better Theatres Pty Ltd. went into voluntary liquidation. In the same year, Smythe proposed to increase the seating to 710, along with removal of the projection box and raising a part of the roof over the dress circle. In July 1947, the cinema was sold to A. Coroneo and P. Sourry, and the cinema left the Kings chain to join the Dover Theatres Pty Ltd. In 1951, a new Brakelite film screen was installed. Around this time, the total seating was reduced to 654, of which 446 in the stalls and 208 in the dress circle. The screen was replaced again in 1955, this time with a Cinemascope wide screen. During this period, the façade on both the Old South Head Road and Dudley Road was repainted several times with different colour schemes. It appears that the stage, originally installed on the ground floor level was also lost during this period.

2.4.2 CONVERSION TO CLOTHING FACTORY, 1958

The cinema was closed in October 1958, and the property sold in November of the same year, to T. and E. Mills. Soon after that, it was converted into a clothing factory for Boyce Brothers and almost all of its interior features were removed. These included the seating, the dress circle floor and almost all finishes.

A new floor, consisting of a slab on iron beams, was installed at the ground floor level and a new timber floor was added at the level of the former dress circle, subdividing the former cinema in two separate levels plus a carpark level. An additional entrance to the rear was added to the upper level, accessed from the newly installed concrete staircase. A goods lift was also installed, adjoining the new staircase. The projection rooms were completely removed at this time, and a stairway was added connecting the former dress circle to the area of former projection rooms, now converted into offices and a storage area. Most of the fittings and finishes in this area were subsequently removed, and a number of new partitions, timber formed and sheeted with timber or plasterboard were installed.

The circular staircase was also altered.
Most of the notable exterior features, primarily the general massing, the original fenestration and the unpretentious façade decoration survived, largely intact. However, some of the features were lost, including the original entrance doors along with the original awning and the prominent cinema sign. A window on the left hand side of the entrance was infilled with brick. The building was gazetted “a place no longer of public entertainment”, as of February 1960.

2.4.3 COMBINED USE WITH ADJOINING SITE

In 1958, Boyce Brothers purchased lot 22 of the same Section 2, DP 6295, adjoined to the South of the cinema, creating the site that still exists. Although united under the same ownership, the two lots were never amalgamated and remain listed as separate titles. About 1958, a two level retail store was erected on lot 22, adjoining the Cinema. Although it presents as a single level building from Old South Head Road, a large basement extends over the entire site. A sense of joint use of the two sites is evident, based on a shared use of loading decks and other features.

2.4.4 FURTHER ALTERATIONS, c. 1975

The combined property was sold in 1975, and changed its use again around this date. The ground floor area was re-subdivided, and a retail area was created at this level in the newer building. The basement of this building was converted to parking. It was used as a supermarket until recently. A large green grocery was created in most of the ground floor area of the former Cinema foyer, a couple of other grocery stores were created in other ground floor areas, and the lower part of the ground floor in the former Cinema building was excavated to create a loading dock and car parking area, facing Dudley Road. Two large openings were created in the North elevation to provide access to these facilities. The only significant interior feature that survived was the ceiling in the auditorium, although the notable circular Art Deco vents were damaged for installation of new lighting in the 1970s. The former lobby also retained its original ceiling, the rundown wall finishes, windows and most of the original stairway features. At the rear was a pair of original timber doors, re-used from another part of the building. Only parts of the original plaster wall decoration remained. Most original services appear to have been removed although the ceiling electricity outlets have been adapted for commercial, exposed industrial type fluorescent tube light fittings.

After 1975, the building did not undergo any further major alterations. The greengrocery at the ground floor survives. A deli shop used the other large shop on the ground floor of the old Cinema, originally the milk bar. It is currently without tenancy. The large 1958 adjoining building is long vacant.

[Picture: The Subdivision] of the Estate of Percy Lucas. Plan deposited in the Land Titles Office. ]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema in 1935, Corner of Old South Head Road and Dudley Road.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema in 1935, Corner of Old South Head Road and Dudley Road.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema in 1935. The Entrance Vestibule.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema in 1935. The Auditorium.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema in 1935. The Foyer.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema c. 1970. Detail of the original Ceiling ventilator grilles with new lighting installed.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema. Original plans of alterations as performed in the 1970’s.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema. Original plans of alterations as performed in the 1970’s.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema. Original plans of alterations as performed in the 1970’s.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema. Original plans of alterations as performed in the 1970’s.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North Cinema. Original plans of alterations as performed in the 1970’s.]

3.0

Description

3.1 Streetscape


The Rose Bay North Cinema is located on the west side of Old South Head Road, the major communication axis of the wider area, connecting Bondi, Rose Bay and Vaucluse. Adjoined to the south of the cinema is the 1958 former Supermarket building with its stepped parapet. The topography of Old South Head Road is fairly level in most of the Rose Bay area, but rises to meet the Cinema site. Other streets intersecting Old South Head Road, including Dudley Road, are generally fairly flat in the vicinity of Old South Head Road.

The urban character of Old South Head Road is mixed, predominantly residential but lined with a number of shops and agencies. The character of other streets in the vicinity is strongly residential and consists mainly of individual houses occasionally interspersed with flat buildings. A number of recent redevelopments are notable both on Old South Head Road and in vicinity.
Old South Head Road has a varied streetscape consisting of buildings distinctive in form, scale and time of construction. They feature different styles, massing and roof forms, although height of most of the buildings does not exceed three storeys. The character of the Road is strongly affected by heavy traffic and, to a degree, by the adjacent residential neighbourhood and the nearby beach areas.

The Rose Bay Cinema stands out in the streetscape, featuring numerous characteristics of the late 1930s Functionalist architectural style. It is identifiable by its notable façade curved around the corner of Old South Head road and Dudley Road, featuring two prominent cylindric shapes facing the corner. The intriguing street pattern has created a unique location for the cinema, exposing it to views from three of the four sides –North and West elevations facing Dudley Road and the East elevation facing Old South Head Road. However, a major part of the façade to Dudley Road (West and North) is a undecorated rendered wall, with little fenestration, to the West obscured by mature vegetation and to the North dominated by significant unsympathetic alterations, primarily the openings dimensioned to provide truck access to the loading deck. The roof is not visible from the street. The building also features some decorative stucco detailing in higher areas, visible only partly and from a further distance.

3.2 Heritage items in the vicinity

There are no listed heritage items within 500 metres from the Rose Bay North Cinema. In the Rose Bay and Vaucluse area there are six items listed in the State Heritage Register and around one hundred items listed in the heritage schedules of the Woollahra LEP, of which around forty are built items. However, none of the items is in the immediate vicinity of Rose Bay Cinema. No visual contact can be maintained between the Cinema and any of the items listed in the State Heritage Register or in the heritage schedules of the Woollahra LEP, and there is no mutual impact between the Cinema and any of the heritage items in the nearby areas.

Photographs

[Picture: Old South Head Road in vicinity of Dudley Road, view to the South, the cinema building on the right hand side of the photo.]

[Picture: Old South Head Road, view to the building of former Rose Bay North Cinema.]

[Picture: Old South Head Road, view to the Cinema, and the adjoining Supermarket .]

[Picture: Rose Bay North cinema building, corner of Old South Head Road and Dudley Road.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, ground floor, former entrance area.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, grocery storage area in the former foyer.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, grocery on the ground floor, former entrance area.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, surviving ceiling cornice detail in grocery area.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, former dress circle foyer on the first floor.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, view to the former projection room office block installed on the first floor.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, former auditorium stairs leading to the former projection room.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, former auditorium. Compare the historic photograph on page 11 (original report) .]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, former auditorium. Compare the photograph on page 13 (original report) .]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, former auditorium, surviving ceiling plaster detailing.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, former auditorium, surviving ceiling plaster detailing.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, former auditorium, first floor level. A door opening installed on the first floor level. The door was probably reused from another location in the building.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, the concrete staircase added at the rear.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, former auditorium, damaged ceiling ventilation masks.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, former dress circle lavatories surviving original fabric.]

[Picture: The Rose Bay North cinema building, former dress circle foyer lavatories surviving original fabric.]

4.0

Assessment of Significance

4.1 Comparative Analysis

4.1.1. OTHER CINEMAS LISTED IN NSW


In order to fully understand the significance of the former Rose Bay Cinema within the wider context of NSW cinema buildings, a research into history of cinemas was undertaken. The Movie Theatre Heritage Register for NSW, prepared by Ross Thorne, Les Tod and Kevin Cork in 1997 identified nearly two thousand cinemas across the state. The Register has classified the Rose Bay Cinema, along with nearly one hundred other cinemas as having “Category One” status of significance for the state. However, very few of these are actually listed by state and local authorities as heritage items.
Currently, there are five cinemas registered in the State Heritage Register of NSW, being the Roxy Cinema in Parramatta, the Ritz in Randwick, the Amusu Theatre in Manildra, the State Theatre in Sydney and the Saraton Theatre in Grafton. There are around twenty-five cinemas and former cinema buildings in NSW that are listed by local government as heritage items of local significance.
A total of ten cinemas and former cinemas in NSW are also listed in the Register of the National, and another eight are noted as indicative places. The former Rose Bay Cinema is not in either of these two groups.

There are also cases in NSW when only elements of the building, usually façades, are listed as items of local heritage significance even though the building is found to not have sufficient significance for heritage listing. This is the case with several cinemas and theatre buildings, like the Astros Picture Theatre of Merriwa (façade), the Independent Theatre of North Sydney (façade and roofscape), the Olympia Theatre of Bombala (façade) and the De Luxe Cinema of Collaroy (façade side and front only).

4.1.2 THE ROSE BAY NORTH CINEMA IN CONTEXT OF ITS DATE AND STYLE

The Rose Bay Cinema was, as previously described, one of the early cinemas of the Kings Circuit, well-known for its use of latest technology and modern design. At the time the cinema was built, it was recognized by the general architectural public as an excellent professional achievement, noted primarily for its modernity and contemporary answer to clients demands. Building magazine commented:
It is interesting to compare the picture shows of to-day with those that were erected before the War. It was natural with the advent of moving pictures, or the "movies" as they came to be known, that the buildings to house them should be some sort of a combination of the hall and the theatre. The result was generally unsatisfactory, for the proper production of motion pictures required something more than a mere hall, while on the other hand, the large stage and dressing room accommodation which was necessary for theatrical productions, were superfluous.

The Evolution of the Picture Theatre

As time went by, however, the happy medium was achieved and some fine buildings that were eminently satisfactory from every standpoint for their purpose, were erected. Care was given to the planning of the buildings, so that the lines of sight from every part were satisfactory, while the comfort of the patrons began to be seriously studied. Then came the talking picture, which caused as complete a metamorphosis in the design and planning of picture theatres as they did in the vast studios in which the films were produced.

To transform the latter cost millions of pounds throughout the industry and the same remark, though over a longer period, may apply to the picture theatre, for buildings that were successful for the old days no longer fulfilled their function for the production of talking pictures.
Coupled with the necessity to study acoustics was the new thought in architectural design with its simplicity of massing, predominance of plain surfaces and revulsion from prototype in the matter of fenestration and detail. In the past the endeavour was to make the front of a picture theatre as attractive as possible, and even to-day the tendency is sometimes to concentrate on the main façade and overlook the appearance of the rear and sides of the structure. A state reminiscent of the old tag "Queen Ann in front and Mary Ann elsewhere."


Factors of Modern Theatre Design

Four factors may be said to influence the design of the modern picture theatre more than any others. First and foremost is that of acoustics, for a theatre in which every person cannot hear as well as see is obviously a failure. The second is that of lighting –for it is by this means that the designer of today obtains his decorative effects. He no longer relies upon masses of applied ornament, but rather designs his ceilings and wall surfaces to receive the various lighting effects which he evolves. The third, and a contribution which is just making its presence felt in the latest theatres –though why the public had to wait so long for this service is hard to understand –is that of heating. Large city theatres have, of course, been cooled and heated for some years but this luxury has been entirely unknown in the suburban theatres. In the present building the latest developments in warm air heating under thermostatic control, as perfected by the Australian Gas Light Company, have been incorporated. When not required for heating this plant ventilates the theatre from six or eight points. The fourth essential from the public’s standpoint is that of comfort, which is assured by equipping the theatre with Dunlopillo seats and carpeting it with heavy floor coverings.

Streamlining

Possibly the most striking differences to be discerned in comparing the interior of the theatre of yesterday with the new Kings' is the entire change in what might be described as the lines of the structure. Formerly the auditorium was broken up into horizontal compartments by heavy piers that ran up the walls deep beams that divided the ceiling into large panels. The modern tendency, as instanced in the "Kings," might be described as streamlining –a word coined from the motor car designer –whence incidentally, the inspiration as applied to theatre decoration was probably derived. By this term is meant the divergence of all the lines of the auditorium towards the focal point of the screen. In the “Kings," the central motif already referred to, is the central line. While the same idea is maintained in the decoration upon the walls. This development appears to be essentially logical
[2].

However, not everyone shared the enthusiasm for the new architecture. Critics, often acting through the local authorities, have been extensive as well, and imposed certain constrains. The same article therefore argues that:
Speaking generally, The King's may be regarded as a most interesting development in theatre design, combining as it does the latest developments in every respect. It has no disreputable or bare walls, both sides and the back being treated in an exactly similar manner to the main front. Which is very desirable in a residential area of this type. By carrying the parapet walls up higher than usual the pitched roof has been masked, so that the modern straight line effect has been achieved. It is interesting to note at this point that in spite of the fact that it would be extremely difficult to view the roof except perhaps from adjoining flats or from an aeroplane –it is certainly not visible from the road –the local council insisted that the designer should employ tiles in this area. Surely to insist in this matter is in excess of their powers! [2]

The design of the building, as mentioned, was attributed to Guy Crick although at the time he was in architectural partnership with Bruce Furse. Crick and Furse designed a total of thirteen cinemas for the Kings Circuit between 1934 and 1939. They also designed tens of cinemas for various clients across Sydney and NSW between the 1920s and the 1940s.
The Kings was one of the major cinema chains in Sydney in the inter-war period, along with the Hoyt’s and a few others.

Furthermore, the Kings chain was found to be at the forefront of both the cinema technology and client service in the 1930s, introducing numerous important innovations and alterations to Sydney cinemas. These included air-conditioning, the “Dunlopillo” seatings, carpeted stairways and other luxurious fittings. These features were emphasized by the highest quality design, as: “the modern style characterizing the design impressed the public as unique … to such effect that soon their “intimate-style” luxury cinema found its place in suburb after suburb …” [3]

At least four other Kings Theatres still remain, although adapted in other uses or configurations. Among these, the Rose Bay North is noted for Art Deco influences to its style and design, today evidenced only in some elements of the façade detailing. Most elements of the fine detailing of the interior were lost in progressive alterations or long periods of neglect, particularly in the recent decades. In addition to this, it is also clear that the Rose Bay Cinema never was a match to the larger cinemas of the Kings Circuit, as it was built as relatively cheaply, compared to its counterparts aiming, as described, to impress the public and create an atmosphere of luxury.
In conclusion, it is evident that the Rose Bay North is a representative example of the group of Interwar Functionalist style cinemas of the Kings Circuit, although it never was one of the leading components of this group. Additionally, the level of integrity of the original fabric is low, particularly in the interior. The building underwent a number of unsympathetic alterations and is generally in state of bad repair.

4.2 HERITAGE OFFICE CRITERIA

The subject properties have been assessed to determine their significance using the NSW Heritage Office criteria, as published in the NSW Heritage Manual.
’Heritage’ significance or ’cultural’ significance is a term used to describe an item’s value or importance to our current society, and is defined in The Burra Charter, published by Australia ICOMOS (Article 1.2) as:
Aesthetic, Historic, Scientific or Social value for past, present and future generations.
These cultural values may be contained within the fabric of an item, its setting and its relationship to other items, the response that the item stimulates in those who value it now and in historical records that allow us to understand it in its own context. Cultural significance may change as a result of the continuing history of the place and understanding of the significance may change as a result of new information.

Determining the cultural value is the basis of all planning for places of historic value. A clear determination of significance permits informed decisions for future planning that would ensure that the expressions of significance are retained, enhanced or at least minimally impacted upon. A clear understanding of the nature and degree of significance will determine the parameters for, and flexibility of any future development.
The determination of cultural value of an individual item is defined in the NSW Heritage Manual Update (August 2000), as a process of examination of seven listed criteria. These evaluation criteria also provide two levels of comparative significance – rarity and representativeness.

An item is considered to be of heritage significance at a State or local level, if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
(a) An item is important in the course, or pattern, of NSW’s cultural or natural history (or the cultural or natural history of the local area)
(b) An item has strong or special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in NSW’s cultural or natural history or the cultural or natural history of the local area)
(c) An item is important in demonstrating aesthetic characteristics and/or a high degree of creative or technical achievement in NSW (or the local area)
(d) An item has strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in NSW (or the local area) for social, cultural or spiritual reasons
(e) An item has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of NSW’s cultural or natural history (or the cultural or natural history of the local area)
(f) An item possesses uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of NSW’s cultural or natural history (or the cultural or natural history of the local area)
(g) An item is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of NSW’s cultural or natural places; or cultural or natural environments (or a class of the local area’s cultural or natural places; or cultural or natural environments)


4.3 ASSESSMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE

Criterion A: An item is important in the course, or pattern, of NSW’s cultural or natural history (or the cultural or natural history of the local area)
.
The subject building is an Interwar Functionalist style cinema, erected as a single screen cinema in 1936. It is representative of a pattern of recreational and commercial development in the local area but makes no important contribution to that pattern.

Criterion b: An item has strong or special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in NSW’s cultural or natural history or the cultural or natural history of the local area).
The building originally was one of the Kings Cinemas, although somewhat atypical, and its surviving original fabric is representative rather than an important example of this circuit. The cinema was designed by a well-known firm of architects, who designed most of the Kings Cinemas between 1934 and 1939.

Criterion c: An item is important in demonstrating aesthetic characteristics and/or a high degree of creative or technical achievement in NSW (or the local area).
The Cinema is an unusual example of the Art Deco / Modernist architectural styling that became associated with cinemas in the 1930s. The exterior of the Cinema has local landmark value due to its prominent location, although the alterations have changed the original character of the building and degraded the original architectural concept.

Criterion d: An item has strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in NSW or the local area for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

The former Cinema was a popular place of entertainment between 1935 and 1938. The building in its current state does not have strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in the local area. However, its exterior does have some heritage value for the local community as one of the local landmarks, as described above.

Criterion E: An item has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of NSW’s cultural or natural history (or the cultural or natural history of the local area).

The building fabric does not have potential to yield new information that will contribute to an understanding of the cultural history of the local area, as it is a typical example of local construction of its period, using materials and techniques that were in common practice.
Criterion F: An item possesses uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of NSW’s cultural or natural history (or the cultural or natural history of the local area).

The building was used as a cinema between 1935 and 1958. It is the only surviving former cinema building in the area dating from the 1930s. It is therefore a rare surviving relic from what may be described as the golden age of cinemas in Australia.

Criterion G: An item is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of the local area’s cultural or natural places.
The former cinema building demonstrates the principal characteristics of the Kings chain of Cinemas, which were widely scattered across suburban Sydney. Its level of integrity is rather low, and subsequent alterations have significantly impacted its architectural character. A number of potentially significant features were lost in early alterations.

4.4 Schedule of significant fabric

The NSW Heritage Manual provides guidelines for determining the relative significance of particular elements within the listed item, as follows:
Different components of a place may make a different relative contribution to its heritage value. Loss of integrity or condition may diminish significance. In some cases, it may be useful to specify the relative contribution of an item or its components. While it is useful to refer to the following table when assessing this aspect of significance, it may need to be modified to suit its application to each specific item:

GRADING……………….. JUSTIFICATION…………………...STATUS
EXCEPTIONAL…………..Rare or outstanding item of……… Fulfils criteria for local or
……………………………..local or State significance………… State listing.
……………………………..High degree of intactness.
……………………………..Item can be interpreted
……………………………..relatively easily.
HIGH………………………High degree of original……………. Fulfils criteria for local or
……………………………..fabric…………………………………State listing.
……………………………..Demonstrates a key element
……………………………..of the item's significance.
……………………………..Alterations do not detract
……………………………..from significance.
MODERATE ……………..Altered or modified elements……...Fulfils criteria for local or
……………………………..Elements with little heritage……….State listing.
……………………………..value, but which contribute to
……………………………..the overall significance of the item.
LITTLE…………………….Alterations detract from…………… Does not fulfil criteria for
……………………………..significance……………………….. local or State listing.
……………………………..Difficult to interpret.
INTRUSIVE………………Damaging to the item's…………….Does not fulfil criteria for
…………………………….heritage significance………………..llocal or State listing.


Applied to the Rose Bay North Cinema, this system gives the following classification of the Significant Fabric of the building:

4.4.1 HIGH SIGNIFICANCE

The surviving original exterior features and the surviving volume of the former cinema are of High significance. This includes the façade walls to Old South Head Road and Dudley Road above the awning level, the general massing of the cinema building including the projection room and elements of façade decoration in the upper floors, and the entrance to former cinema on the ground floor level. This also includes the surviving cornices in the former circular entrance foyer and the upper dress circle above it and surviving elements of the ceiling, the circular ceiling vents and wall plaster decoration in the former cinema auditorium.

4.4.2 MODERATE SIGNIFICANCE

The surviving original fabric in poor condition or beyond repair, or fabric that has neutral impact on the significance of the building, is generally of Moderate significance. This includes the original finishes in the dress circle and the toilets and staircase adjoined to it. This also includes all of the surviving joinery, and the original roof structure.

4.4.3 LITTLE SIGNIFICANCE

The unsympathetically altered or damaged fabric is generally of little significance. This includes most of the ground floor level fabric, the interior of the former auditorium on this level, the destroyed interior of the projection room area and the awning to the Old South Head Road and the lower portions of the North elevation with its abruptions created in the recent decades. This also includes the remnants of the former milk bar. The latter had some significance for its functional relation with the cinema, but this significance was degraded and the associations with the other elements of the cinema building were severed when the cinema function ceased and the fabric was altered.

4.4.4 INTRUSIVE ELEMENTS

The elements that changed the original character of the building are generally intrusive. These include the slab and post construction erected on the ground floor level and the timber floor of the upper former dress circle level, the new floors in both the former stalls and the dress circle level and a number of minor components dating from later alterations, such as metal grilles, signage and various equipment of the retailing facilities at the ground floor.

5.0

Heritage Impact Assessment

5.1 the proposed development


The proposed development is described in the drawings numbered S2/1–S2/4 and DA/1–DA/12, prepared by Gerard Thomas Associates Pty Ltd, (GTAA), dated November–December 2001. The GTAA’s proposal for the former Cinema and the adjoined property at 694-696 Old South Head Road is to create residential units while rebuilding and expanding the existing retail facilities zone on the ground floor of the building. The volume of the original Cinema will be recaptured by the removal of the later first floor slab.
In essence the project comprises erection of a four storey mixed use (commercial and residential) building on lot 22, adjoined to the south of the former Cinema building, and reorganisation of the former Cinema building located on lot 23 of the Section 2, DP 6295.

It is also a part of the proposal to amalgamate the two lots (Nos. 22 and 23), currently on separate titles although they have been under a united ownership for the past 43 years.

Within the cinema building, the proposal includes the removal of the timber floor at the dress circle level and reorganisation of the ground floor to create a larger retail area linked to the ground floor level of the adjoining building. It also includes excavation under the ground floor level and creation of a two-storey car park below that building. On the exterior, the proposal includes full retention of the existing main (east, north and west) elevations, with removal of the unsympathetic alterations, including the awning to the east (Old South Head Road) elevation.
The spatial reorganisation as described in the proposal includes demolition of several internal partition walls and their replacement with new ones, along with several new or altered openings in the existing partitions, and creation of two office units on the first floor (dress circle) level. The existing roof structure is to be retained but the tiles are to be replaced with corrugated metal roofing. Some of the lost original features are to be reinstated, such as the ground floor windows on the smaller cylindric portion of the façade or the awning above the entrance, which is to be reinstated in its original form.
The majority of the additions will be limited to the lot 22, portion currently occupied by a supermarket erected c. 1940s. This structure is to be removed and replaced with the new retail area and a wing containing the residential apartments above the new supermarket. It is also to feature a car park area under the ground floor level and a lift connecting the car park and the residential area.

The former cinema entrance foyer is to become the main pedestrian entrance to the retail area. An additional residential entrance with a lift is to be installed in the southeast corner of the amalgamated property. The concrete staircase in the northwest corner is to be reworked and used as a fire exit. A small shop is to be located in the basement of the former cinema.

All of the proposed alterations are to be performed with use of materials and features sympathetic to the original design, including new wall fabric, new or altered openings and retention of original fabric. The three cinema elevations are to be retained, intact above the awning level and in the corner area and sympathetically altered in other portions, and will continue to be a functioning item within the new composition.
The air-conditioning has been carefully designed to avoid the introduction of intrusive equipment into the recapture volume of the former cinema.
The additions will be performed in a manner that will not detract from the heritage value of the cinema. The additions are to occur in the south portion of the property, separated from the heritage item and will not have an adverse impact its significance. All of the fabric of high significance is to be retained and most of the intrusive fabric is to be removed to provide reuse and reinterpretation of the elements of high significance.

5.2 ASSESSMENT AGAINST HERITAGE OFFICE CRITERIA

The NSW Heritage Office has established guidelines for preparing Statements of Heritage Impact. The guidelines are formulated in form of questions related to particular proposed change to a heritage item. The following assessment of heritage impact has been formulated under those guidelines, answering the relevant questions prepared by the NSW Heritage Office. This analysis is confined only to the former cinema building, as the adjoined former supermarket is not a heritage listed item.

MINOR PARTIAL DEMOLITION
Is the demolition essential for the heritage item to function?


The proposed demolition refers to some of the internal walls and removal of the timber floor construction at the dress circle level. The construction is intrusive and its removal will significantly improve the heritage significance of the building. The other demolition works are necessary to provide a new spatial organization allowing a higher quality of utilisation of the building. The sections of internal walls to be removed are only remnants of the original fabric and are not essential for the heritage item to function. Their demolition will not affect the heritage value of the former cinema.

Are important features of the item affected by the demolition (e. g. fireplaces in buildings)?

The most important feature of the building, its three elevations, will not at be significantly impacted, as they will only undergo minor and sympathetic alterations. As for the interior features, the only remaining significant elements of the interior are the cinema hall ceiling and the two remaining cornices, in the circle foyer and the dress circle, which are also not impacted by the proposed works.

Is the resolution to partially demolish sympathetic to the heritage significance of the item (e. g. creating large rectangular openings in internal walls rather than removing the wall altogether)?

Proposed demolition of parts of the walls is aimed at creation of large openings and is planned to avoid complete removal. All of the demolition works are a part of creation of larger, more functional retail area, and are justified in terms of architectural design and as an improvement of the quality of space. Demolition of internal partitions on the first floor is neutral in terms of heritage and will not have a significant impact on the significance of the heritage item. Removal of the timber floor on the first floor level is aimed to recapture the original volume and, as such, it is a significant improvement of the heritage value of the building. Other proposed demolition work involves walling added to the building in recent decades, which will have no impact on the significance of the building.

CHANGE OF USE
Has the advice of a heritage consultant or structural engineer been sought? Has the consultant’s advice been implemented? If no, why not?


The original use of the building, the cinema venue, was abandoned some forty years ago. Graham Brooks and Associates have liaised with the architects from the early stages of the design. The changes proposed are in line with the original architectural disposition and the reuse of space is in line with the original general architectural presentation of the former cinema.

Does the existing use contribute to the significance of the heritage item?
As described above, the original use of the building was abandoned and is highly unlikely to be reinstated in the future. The current use of the ground floor areas as retail facilities has no important impact to the heritage significance of the building and the additional residential wing will not have a significant impact on the adjacent cinema massing.
Why does the use need to be changed?

The cinema use is a prohibited use in this zoning under the provisions of the current LEP, along with other types of “amusement centres”. The proposed changes are in line with the zoning permitted by the current LEP. It is a logical addition of residential amenities to the existing retail facilities in a strongly residential neighbourhood.

What changes to the fabric are required as a result of the change of use?

The changes to the fabric of the former cinema include removal of several partition walls, replacement of flooring and refurbishment of the affected areas. All of the removed or replaced material belongs to the additions to the building performed in recent decades, with the exception of some internal partitions of little heritage value value. The proposed changes will not negatively affect any of the significant fabric of the building.

What change to the site are required as a result of the change of use?

As described above, the proposed works comprise amalgamation of the two sites affected. The sites are under united ownership from the 1950s and have in effect functioned as one since then. Other changes include excavation under the existing ground floor. The described activities will not have impact to the heritage significance of the site or the building.

NEW DEVELOPMENT ADJACENT TO A HERITAGE ITEM

How is the impact of the new development on the heritage significance of the item or area to be minimised?


The new development focuses on the adjoined lot. The impact of this development is to be minimised through sympathetic design. This includes logical forms, proportions similar to the existing, style that does not detract from the heritage value of the former cinema and use of external materials sympathetic to the existing. The proposed development will have no adverse effect on the heritage item.

Why is the new development required to be adjacent to a heritage item?

The new development is required to provide additional new space and improve the feasibility of the whole project. This part of the proposal is limited to the lot adjoining the heritage item and will have minimal impact on the heritage item.

How does the curtilage allowed around the heritage item contribute to the retention of its heritage significance?

The curtilage around the building is partly obscuring the East elevation and provides a setting to the heritage item. The curtilage and this contribution are not to be impacted by the development proposal.

How does the new development affect views to, and from, the heritage item? What has been done to minimise negative effects?

The new structure will have some impact due to its scale. The negative effects of this are to be minimised through a choice of an appropriate building style and through ca

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