New Arts Centre cafe sheathed in bronze curtain

Cumulus Studio has completed a new cafe in the forecourt of the Roy Grounds-designed Arts Centre, which occupies a prominent site on St Kilda Road in central Melbourne. The structure replaces a plastic gazebo that was intended to be used temporarily but operated as a cafe for more than a decade.

Dubbed “Protagonist,” the cafe is sheathed in a bronze curtain façade made from Kaynemaile, a fire- and UV-resistant polycarbonate mesh, originally designed in New Zealand to be used as chainmail costumes in the Lord of the Rings movies.

<!— /5912001/AAU_AU_MR_side_300x250 —> <div id=’div-gpt-ad-1490926265173-2-mob’> <script> googletag.cmd.push(function() { // googletag.pubads().refresh([gptRespAdSlots[0]]); googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1490926265173-2-mob’); }); </script> </div>

The curtain, which can be fully raised in summer is drawn to the ground and locked to close the café at night. When closed, the curtain becomes a screen that can be used for artistic projections or Arts Centre advertising. The cafe can also be used for private events with the curtain partially raised.

Cumulus were the winners of an invited design competition for the project in 2018, seeing off competition from Sibling Architecture, Clare Cousins Architects and Architecture Architecture.

Protagonist by Cumulus Studio.

Protagonist by Cumulus Studio.

Image: Sean Fennessy

Speaking when the winning designs were revealed, Cumulus director Keith Westbrook described the curtain façade as a play “on the iconic and universally understood element of the theatre curtain as a device to signify ‘open’ and ‘closed.’”

In a statement, the architects said, “In analyzing the monumental architectural context, we have created a single statement that responds, although is of a completely different scale, to the surrounds.

<!— /5912001/AAU_AU_MR2_side_300x250 —> <div id=’div-gpt-ad-1490926265173-3-mob’> <script> googletag.cmd.push(function() { // googletag.pubads().refresh([gptRespAdSlots[1]]); googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1490926265173-3-mob’); }); </script> </div>

“In doing so the design takes a similar architecture approach to the adjacent buildings, each of which have a solid grounding element complemented by a sculptural or grand facade gesture (the [National Gallery of Victoria] arch, the ACM spire, etc.). While the form responds to the scale of the context, the materiality expresses a lightness, which reflects its temporary nature that contrasts with the heavy masonry of the permanent public buildings.”

The Arts Centre was built in 1973 and is part of a heritage-listed arts complex was designed by Grounds. The precinct also comprises Hamer Hall (1982) and the National Gallery of Victoria (1968).

Related topics

More news

See all
McEvoy Street apartments by Andrew Burns Architecture and PBD Architects. Former Alexandria industrial site’s new lease of life

A proposal by Andrew Burns Architecture and PBD Architects will renew an existing site that was once home to a roofing and flooring manufacturer.

Enrico Taglietti. Canberra visionary Enrico Taglietti posthumously recognized in Australia Day Honours

Enrico Taglietti has been posthumously appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2020 Australia Day Honours

Fishermans Bend Secondary School by Billard Leece Partnership. Works begin on Fishermans Bend vertical high school

Conceived by Billard Leece Partnership, the architectural design of the school is inspired by the area’s maritime and industrial history.

Port Hedland International Airport by Woods Bagot. Major upgrade to remote Pilbara international airport

Woods Bagot’s new terminal for Port Hedland International Airport will be more than 800 square metres larger than the existing structure.

Most read

Latest on site

Calendar