‘UKARIA has stories within its walls – a rapidly accumulating record of humanity and beauty from the concerts held within. Ulrike and all those who have helped create this shrine to music recognise the rewards of investment not only in the bricks-and-mortar of the venue but also in the musicians and artists who enliven it.’

– Iain Grandage

Every aspect of the foyer has been designed to create a sense of invitation. Rammed earth walls are bathed in natural light – preluding the events inside the hall – whilst environmentally sustainable timbers exude natural, rural warmth.

‘I don’t think I’ve met anybody who doesn’t like rammed earth,’ architect Anton Johnson says. ‘It’s such an earthy, grounded material.’ Made from locally quarried sand and rubble, the walls are a nod to the old mud-brick building from the Jurlique Herb Farm days, whilst offering a distinctly contemporary feeling of stability.

Blackbutt timber from Queensland is used for the floors throughout the foyer and auditorium for its unique density. ‘It’s one-and-a-half times harder than jarrah, so it can withstand a lot of traffic and wear, and it has a beautiful blonde colour,’ Anton explains. Overhead, a hemlock acoustic ceiling absorbs a significant amount of noise during periods of congestion, and complements the simplicity of the wall and floor surfaces.

The doors to the auditorium are made of yellow cedar from Alaska – a timber chosen for its colour, durability and fine-grained finish. ‘It’s the solid timber that gives the whole place a bit of a glow,’ Anton says. ‘It’s difficult to get and rarely seen, because it has very distinctive qualities in terms of the smoothness of the surface and the lustre that it gives. It is also a popular timber for making classical guitars.’

Andrew Steiner’s Ode to Nature, crafted from beautiful Tasmanian Huon Pine, is displayed amid fresh flower arrangements that are handpicked from the UKARIA garden. The foyer also functions as an exhibition space for contemporary Indigenous art: Ginger Wikilyiri and Keith Stevens’ magnificent work Piltati (2011) – generously on loan from the Art Gallery of South Australia – is the current centrepiece of the foyer.

An abbreviated history of the cultural program also adorns the walls, with posters of internationally renowned musicians documenting some of the highlights – all individually signed by the artists as a permanent souvenir of their time at this special place.

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