2020

Victorian Architecture Awards

Small Project Architecture

2020

National Architecture Awards

Small Project Architecture - Commendation

2020

Eat Drink Design Awards

Best Installation Design - Commendation

Location

St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Client

Arts Centre Melbourne

Year

2019

Images

Sean Fennessy

Land of

Kulin Nation

+

PrimeBuild

Kaynemaile Architectual Mesh

The Assembly

Argall

Installation Theatrical Engineering

Protagonist

Bring the stage to

the streets

At the theatre, nothing beats the emotion of the stage curtain’s first rise and regrettable fall. Protagonist’s bronze-veiled exterior aims to capture this moment. It’s the response to a 2018 Arts Centre Melbourne competition for Victorians to reimagine the ACM forecourt cafe. We seized this rare chance to experiment with engaging public space amidst some of Melbourne’s most iconic architecture.

Raise the curtain

The Protagonist structure activates the space in front of one of Australia’s most prominent arts precincts. As an interactive new cafe, bar and ticket booth, the design plays on a theatre curtain motif as a device to signify a welcoming ‘open’ or a veiled ‘closed’. Beyond key references in form, large-scale projectors allow the new structure to literally bring the theatre to the street. Upon nightfall, the mesh facade transforms, lit up by moving art projections. We created these in partnership with a branding agency and digital artist, inspired by the ballet and other ACM events. Protagonist is intended to stay at ACM for five years and, we hope, might find a new home after that.

Polished steel and a Lord of the Rings polycarbonate

Opting for camouflage over competition, our designs incorporated unconventional materials and altering forms to nod to and engage with the ACM spire and bronze NGV roof. The screen material itself, however, is something less familiar. Kaynemaile, a polycarbonate mesh, was originally developed as chainmail for the Lord of the Rings movie costumes. Kaynemaile provides weather protection, welcomes dappled light within the interior and allows for natural airflow. It also creates a singular and cohesive design form to discreetly integrate the façade’s raising and lowering mechanism.

A bump in the road

Beneath the curtain, we chose a polished stainless steel counter to reflect the grey and red heritage granite paving along St Kilda road. The pavement proved to be an unexpected constraint. Due to its historic significance, we couldn’t take the usual approach of bolting into the slab. Instead, we created a completely free-standing structure to protect the paving. By integrating steel and concrete to act as ballast, we were able to maintain the integrity of the original design.

Epilogue

Seeing this playful moving curtain facade come to life in the arts precinct, we feel proud of its inviting, innovative qualities. It was a welcome challenge to distill and develop ideas within a competition too. It confirmed something we’ve always believed in; just how important a clear architectural concept is to coalesce a team and achieve an exceptional outcome.

PROTAGONIST

Bring the stage to

the streets

At the theatre, nothing beats the emotion of the stage curtain’s first rise and regrettable fall. Protagonist’s bronze-veiled exterior aims to capture this moment. It’s the response to a 2018 Arts Centre Melbourne competition for Victorians to reimagine the ACM forecourt cafe. We seized this rare chance to experiment with engaging public space amidst some of Melbourne’s most iconic architecture.

2020

Victorian Architecture Awards

Small Project Architecture

2020

National Architecture Awards

Small Project Architecture - Commendation

2020

Eat Drink Design Awards

Best Installation Design - Commendation

Location

St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Client

Arts Centre Melbourne

Year

2019

Images

Sean Fennessy

Land of

Kulin Nation

+

PrimeBuild

Kaynemaile Architectual Mesh

The Assembly

Argall

Installation Theatrical Engineering

Raise the curtain

The Protagonist structure activates the space in front of one of Australia’s most prominent arts precincts. As an interactive new cafe, bar and ticket booth, the design plays on a theatre curtain motif as a device to signify a welcoming ‘open’ or a veiled ‘closed’. Beyond key references in form, large-scale projectors allow the new structure to literally bring the theatre to the street. Upon nightfall, the mesh facade transforms, lit up by moving art projections. We created these in partnership with a branding agency and digital artist, inspired by the ballet and other ACM events. Protagonist is intended to stay at ACM for five years and, we hope, might find a new home after that.

Polished steel and a Lord of the Rings polycarbonate

Opting for camouflage over competition, our designs incorporated unconventional materials and altering forms to nod to and engage with the ACM spire and bronze NGV roof. The screen material itself, however, is something less familiar. Kaynemaile, a polycarbonate mesh, was originally developed as chainmail for the Lord of the Rings movie costumes. Kaynemaile provides weather protection, welcomes dappled light within the interior and allows for natural airflow. It also creates a singular and cohesive design form to discreetly integrate the façade’s raising and lowering mechanism.

A bump in the road

Beneath the curtain, we chose a polished stainless steel counter to reflect the grey and red heritage granite paving along St Kilda road. The pavement proved to be an unexpected constraint. Due to its historic significance, we couldn’t take the usual approach of bolting into the slab. Instead, we created a completely free-standing structure to protect the paving. By integrating steel and concrete to act as ballast, we were able to maintain the integrity of the original design.

Epilogue

Seeing this playful moving curtain facade come to life in the arts precinct, we feel proud of its inviting, innovative qualities. It was a welcome challenge to distill and develop ideas within a competition too. It confirmed something we’ve always believed in; just how important a clear architectural concept is to coalesce a team and achieve an exceptional outcome.