New York architecture firm Solid Objects Idenburg Liu (SO–IL) and Australia’s Hassell have been appointed as the architects of the public spaces in Melbourne redeveloped arts precinct.
The development, which has been called a “once-in-a-generation project”, by Victorian premier Daniel Andrews, will reshape Melbourne’s arts heartland and create a massive new outdoor public space.
The public space development will be part of the $208 million, two-year first phase of the project, funded by the Victorian government and creating 10,000 construction jobs.
The project will revitalise 18,000 square metres of new and renewed open public space, featuring an elevated park, garden and pedestrian spaces.
The firms, who have been awarded a joint contract, will now look to connect the forthcoming NGV Contemporary, Performing Arts Museum and and a new creative hub on 1 City Road, with the existing galleries, theatres and organisations throughout the precinct.
The Arts Centre's Theatres building is to be designed by Norwegian practice Snohetta while architects for NGV Contemporary have yet to be announced.
Project directors, Ben Duckworth of Hassell and Jing Liu of SO–IL, said the development was a rare opportunity to help shape how Melburnians and millions of international visitors experience the Arts Precinct’s cultural offering as well as this part of the city on a daily basis.
“The objective of the Melbourne Arts Precinct Masterplan is to improve the functional aspects of the existing institutions, incorporate the two new facilities, and invigorate and maximise the public experience in this exciting new chapter of the precinct,” the directors said.
Design director Jon Hazelwood said the project is at the intersection of multiple forms of art and should be accessible to all, exploring a deep and meaningful connection to nature.
The design holds a strong focus on nature and will include ever-changing seasonal gardens by world-renowned British horticulturalists Nigel Dunnett and James Hitchmough, who transformed London’s brutalist-style Barbican Centre and London Olympic Parklands.