NH Architecture and Snøhetta appointed for Arts Centre project

NH Architecture and Snøhetta appointed for Arts Centre project
Laurence DragomirAugust 10, 2018

As previously reported in June, the State Government has committed $208 million towards the first stage of the transformation of Melbourne’s Arts Precinct.

It includes the continued development of the Reimagining Arts Centre Melbourne’s Master Plan, plus maintenance works for the Theatres Building which aims to minimise redundant works in the future.

In order to deliver the Arts Centre Melbourne’s vision for the future of the Theatres Building, NH Architecture and Norway’s Snøhetta have been appointed to commence design work on the project.

Melbourne is the design capital of Australia. A reimagined Arts Centre will be at the focus of this ongoing architectural conversation and continue the great legacy of the original designers Sir Roy Grounds and John Truscott.

- NH’s Director of Architecture & Design, Hamish Lyon

NH Architecture has previously worked on both stages of the Melbourne Convention Centre, Margaret Court Arena and the Stage 2 and 3 Masterplans for Melbourne & Olympic Parks.

Snøhetta is a design studio based in Oslo and New York City with an office in Australia and is responsible for the design of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the 9/11 Memorial Pavilion and Times Square redevelopment projects in New York.

The Arts Precinct transformation includes the development of a building for the NGV Contemporary and major upgrades to theatres and public spaces at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Theatres Building. Additionally a new creative hub at 1 City Road will provide new rehearsal and workshop spaces. 

An expanded Australian Music Vault and a new Australian Performing Arts Gallery are also on the design agenda. The NGV Contemporary will involve the construction of a new gallery on the site of the current CUB administration building on Kavanagh Street, which the State Government purchased for $95m earlier this year.

The project will also include more than 18,000 sqm of new and upgraded public realm, knitting together the Melbourne Arts Precinct with City of Melbourne's Southbank Boulevard transformation.

Conceived by ARM, the outdoor space will connect St Kilda Road between Hamer Hall and the Theatres Building, running along the western side of the Theatres Building and National Gallery of Victoria through to Southbank Boulevard.

NH Architecture and Snøhetta appointed for Arts Centre project
Southbank Arts Precinct transformation. Image: Urban Circus via ARM


It was recently announced that Cumulus Studio are the winners of an architectural design competition hosted by Arts Centre Melbourne (ACM) for a new design for Café Cento. Located adjacent to the National Gallery of Victoria, the ACM challenged a shortlist of architects to design a new “unique and memorable” home for what has become an ageing eyesore.

Cumulus Studio's design, dubbed ‘The Protagonist’, investigates what exists beyond the monolithic walls of the Arts Centre and extends the experience to the street.

NH Architecture and Snøhetta appointed for Arts Centre project
Cumulus Studio's winning design for Cafe Cento. Image: Cumulus Studio

Characterised by an adjustable external screen which draws inspiration from the Theatre's curtains, The Protagonist seeks to create a significant civic presence that directly reflects the ACM brand.

In the morning, the curtains will be raised as the cafe opens, then at night, the curtains will be lowered to signify the end of service. Once lowered, the curtain can be used for art projection, marketing of upcoming ACM events, and lighting to activate the precinct at night.

As the primary design feature, Cumulus Studio settled on Kaynemaile for the curtain material.

The material is a fire and UV resistant polycarbonate chainmail mesh, originally developed as chainmail for the Lord of the Rings movie costumes.

Lead Image: Mark Gambino via nharchitecture.net

Southbank Arts Precinct Transformation from ARM Architecture on Vimeo.

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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