The new pride centre on Fitzroy St in St Kilda – which opened yesterday – is the first purpose-built LGBTQ+ building in the world, its designer says.
Architect Grant Amon said the main goal of this building was to provide a place where diverse groups of people could meet and safely exchange their cultural identities.
“This building should be a stimulus, not a barrier,” he said.
Victorian Pride Centre board chair June Munro said a pride centre “underpins society’s acceptance of its own diversity. It lies at the heart of a cohesive society.”
The pride centre will employ 200-300 full-time workers in the building and provide many key services that will benefit both the queer and local community.
These include a café, book shop, archives of queer Melbourne art, a cinema/ theatre, and multiple health services.
Mr Amon said a major driving force for the design was “building the unfinished”, with all of the building’s rooms designed to be easily repurposed.
The Pride Centre has incorporated plenty of circles into the design, reflecting aspects of St Kilda’s history and current architecture.
These include the Luna Park mouth, Catani archway, and the esplanade vaults.
Mr Amon said the purpose of the large scale and outlandish design was to “inform an exotic and exuberant St Kilda”.
“We have sought an architecture of inclusion,” he said.
Ms Munro told ArchitectureAU this building should be something that “our LGBTQI community can be proud of owning, a place of celebration and a safe sanctuary. This design is inspirational and more than satisfies these criteria.”
“A Pride Centre is the opposite of us being hidden,” she said on the VPC website.
Community activist and queer Matt Fraser said they would use the pride building to predominately partake in activism and as a space to meet like-minded people.
“This building is fighting back against historical erasure,” Mx Fraser said.
They said they hoped this building would become a meeting space for activists and community organisers across the whole of Melbourne, taking St Kilda to the forefront of positive change.
“Having something that is tangibly queer in terms of architecture is hard to ignore and will hopefully make the LGBTQ+ community feel more included in mainstream society over the next few years,” Mx Fraser said.