Union Hall (Adelaide)

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Union Hall in 2010
Union Hall in April 2010.

Union Hall was a theatre, hall and lecture theatre located on the North Terrace campus of the University of Adelaide, in South Australia. Constructed in 1958, Union Hall served as a performance venue for various festivals and productions until 2007. It was demolished in November 2010 to make way for a new science precinct.


In 1955, in response to a shortage of student space on the North Terrace campus, the University of Adelaide began a public appeal for funds with which to renovate and expand the buildings of the Adelaide University Union (AUU).[1] The appeal raised £103,761, with notable contributions including £6,000 from the AUU and £12,000 from GM Holden.[2] The majority of these funds were set aside to erect a multi-purpose theatre for the Union's use. Designed by South Australian architect Louis Laybourne Smith,[3] the building was named "Union Hall", and opened on 8 August 1958.[4] The Hall was built with 499 seats, thereby avoiding an ordinance requiring a full-time fireman for buildings with seating capacity of 500 or more.[1][5][6]

Union Hall was a venue for Adelaide's first Festival of the Arts in 1960 and the venue for the first 10 Adelaide Film Festivals, from 1959 to 1968.[7][8]

In 1999, control of Union Hall was handed from the AUU to the University[citation needed], and the hall was renovated into a lecture theatre, in the process reducing its capacity to 415 seats.[5] In 2007, the University ceased allowing the use of the hall for artistic and theatrical purposes, turning it into a full-time lecture theatre.[9][10]

Union Hall being demolished in November 2010
Union Hall being demolished in November 2010.


In September 2009, the University of Adelaide announced that Union Hall would be demolished in order to construct a new science precinct centred on a proposed Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing.[11] The announcement was met with opposition from the local arts community,[3] the National Trust,[12] and the Adelaide City Council.[13] In February 2010, the hall was provisionally listed on the State Heritage Register,[14][15] allowing for submissions from the public regarding the heritage status of the hall.[7] However, in September, South Australian Minister for Environment and Conservation Paul Caica removed it from the register,[16] and the hall was demolished between 17–26 November of the same year.[17]

Construction started soon after, on the Bragg's building. It completed construction in 2013 and was inaugurated by the new Vice-Chancellor Warren Bebbington. [18]

The Hall[edit]

Union Hall was originally constructed to seat 499, with a stage 72 feet (22 m) from front to back and a proscenium arch of 38 feet (12 m). Under the stage was an extensive basement with dressing rooms, and electrical room and a workshop.[6]


  1. ^ a b Duncan, W. G. K.; Leonard, Roger Ashley (1973). The University of Adelaide. 1874-1974. Adelaide, Australia. p. 148. ISBN 0-85179-667-2.
  2. ^ Finnis, Margaret M. (1975). The Lower Level. A Discursive History of the Adelaide University Union. Adelaide, Australia. p. 210. ISBN 0-9598309-0-1.
  3. ^ a b Foster, Farrin (7 November 2009). "Disunity over Union Hall". The Independent Weekly. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  4. ^ "Record View - Official opening of the extensions to the Union Buildings and of Union Hall by His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor on Friday, August 8, 1958 at 3 p.m." Barr Smith Library Catalogue. Barr Smith Library. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  5. ^ a b Goers, Peter (11 October 2009). "It's the art's end of Adelaide". The Sunday Mail. News Corp. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Union Hall to Open Friday". On Dit. Adelaide University Student Representative Council. 1 August 1958. p. 1. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  7. ^ a b Akerman, Pia (11 February 2010). "Union Hall spared the wrecker's ball". The Australian. News Corp. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  8. ^ Medlin, Harry; Horace Swales-Smith; Bronwen Greet; Reg and Glenice Bennett; Lucy Osborne; Mary Dodgson (1968). University Union Hall : 8 August 1958 to 8 August 1968. Adelaide, Australia: Griffin Press. Retrieved 29 April 2010 from the Barr Smith Library Special Collections. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  9. ^ Harris, Samela (29 September 2009). "Curtains close on Union Hall". The Advertiser. News Corp. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  10. ^ "FAQ - New science precinct". The University of Adelaide. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  11. ^ "Building a world-leading science precinct". The University of Adelaide. 28 September 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  12. ^ Harris, Samela (28 October 2009). "National Trust joins fight for Union Hall". The Advertiser. News Corp. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  13. ^ MacDonald, Aaron; Daniel Wills (19 January 2010). "Council body rejects proposal". The Advertiser. News Corp. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  14. ^ "Heritage listing stalls Union Hall plan". ABC News. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 February 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  15. ^ Lloyd, Tim (11 February 2010). "Union Hall given heritage listing, throwing uni plans into chaos". The Advertiser. News Corp. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  16. ^ "University welcomes decision on Union Hall". The University of Adelaide. 3 September 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  17. ^ "Union Hall demolished for science precinct". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2010.
  18. ^ http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news62661.html

External links[edit]

Photos of Union Hall: 2005:left; 2006:front; 2010:left, centre, right