Kennedy Nolan create a new Melbourne Central video-art space

Kennedy Nolan create a new Melbourne Central video-art space
New Artwork ceiling
Laurence DragomirApril 4, 2016

In keeping with the recent commentary on regarding the state of Melbourne Central, a new exhibition of video art - Australia's largest outside of an institution - has just been unveiled at the centre. It forms part of the Lower Ground level transformation as was designed by local architecture firm Kennedy Nolan.

The refurbished space will be host to Melbourne Art Loop: a brand new, immersive video art experience which has been curated by Andy Dinan of MARS Gallery, and features a zealously curated exhibition of colourful and interactive video art featuring more than 30 artists.

These appear simultaneously on fifteen state-of-the-art LCD screens and five large steel overhead projector portals located throughout the Lower Ground level. The $5 million refurbishment's intention is to create a seamless extension of Melbourne's laneways, art and culture.

Kennedy Nolan create a new Melbourne Central video-art space
One of the ceiling additions. Image courtesy Kennedy Nolan

Kennedy Nolan’s work builds on the transformative contribution of architects ARM, who first opened Melbourne Central up to the surrounding CBD through their design of the centre’s 2002 redevelopment, and adds to its strong design and architectural heritage. The refurbishment is very much in keeping with the aesthetic and language which ARM first introduced to the centre, a palette of colour and vibrancy which had been previously lacking.

Kennedy Nolan's design for the space literally brings the streets of Melbourne into the centre via the introduction of familiar street elements which can be found throughout the city, while also drawing inspiration from the original centre designer's interest in pure geometrical forms.

We approached the redesign of Melbourne Central’s Lower Ground by always keeping in mind the urban scale of this precinct. Familiar materials from Melbourne streets have been reinterpreted – concrete tram safety stops become bases for tables, bluestone footpaths become randomised floor tiling complete with zebra crossings and fluoro orange traffic mirrors become a ceiling.

Neon signage and custom designed light fittings are used to create colour and rhythm, while the large steel portals have been introduced as landmarks, framing connections to upper levels. New furniture and balustrades are inspired by the original designer of the building, Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, and his love of pure geometry such as cones and circles.

Michael Macleod, Project Architect, Kennedy Nolan.

Artists featured in the first Art Loop exhibition include Kieran Boland, Erin Coates, Simon Finn and Diego Ramirez, amongst many others, with one participating Art Loop artist selected to win a trip to LOOP Barcelona 2017 – the biggest international festival for video art.

Kennedy Nolan create a new Melbourne Central video-art space
The visual style draws on the earlier work of ARM. Image courtesy Kennedy Nolan


It's interesting to see the continued evolution of Melbourne Central.

While I have previously touched on a desire to see the Elizabeth Street corner improved there are other elements which I believe could be further addressed, and it will be interesting to see what future program of works are in store for the centre.

In addition to the Elizabeth Street corner I'd like to see improvements to the streetscapes along LaTrobe, Little Lonsdale and Lonsdale Streets as well as a refurbishment of the 'bubble bridge' to better reflect the original design intent. Better use of the vast rooftop space should also be considered whether for further development of the introduction of green spaces, or perhaps another outdoor cinema.

All possible ideas for future articles. What do you think? What do you think needs improvement or what would you like Melbourne Central to become?


Melbourne Central Art Loop
Inaugural Show March to July 2016
Melbourne Central, Lower Ground

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.

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