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Key details

Location
Southbank, Melbourne

Client
Melbourne Arts Precinct Corporation (MAP Co) 

Project partners
National Gallery Victoria
Arts Centre Melbourne

 

 

 


 


Development Victoria is delivering the transformation of the Melbourne Arts Precinct, Australia’s largest cultural infrastructure project, on behalf of Melbourne Arts Precinct Corporation.

The $1.7 billion project will transform Melbourne's creative precinct - attracting visitors, creating jobs and establishing creative spaces and a vibrant new Public Realm in the heart of the city.

The Melbourne Arts Precinct transformation project will deliver: 

  • 18,000 square metre public parkland 
  • more space for outdoor art and performances 
  • new connections into and through the arts precinct 
  • improved all-abilities access 
  • new restaurants and bar spaces 
  • significant upgrades to Arts Centre Melbourne’s Theatres Building 
  • The Fox: NGV Contemporary gallery
Early works

Early works on the project are starting and you’ll see a lot more activity in the area as works progress. Arts Centre Melbourne and the NGV will remain open for business throughout, and you can keep attending their exhibitions and events.

In order to do all the works, we will need to clear the area, which means plants, trees, landscaping and paved outdoor areas behind the Theatres Building and towards Hamer Hall will be removed.

When the project is complete, the new public parklands will have significantly more plants, trees and landscaping for Victorians to enjoy.

Several public arts sculptures around the Theatres Building will need to be removed or carefully wrapped up to keep them safe. You will still be able to enjoy the sculptures that are being removed, as we are planning for them to have temporary homes at other public locations.

To keep Arts Centre Melbourne open to the public throughout the project, utilities will be moved temporarily above ground. These works will begin in mid 2022.

To helps us better understand the current noise levels of the project area, we will be doing acoustic monitoring. The monitoring will involve the use of both hand-held devices and noise monitoring equipment placed in different locations. This data will help us keep noise impacts to a minimum throughout the project.

There’ll be changes to access at different times in and around Sturt Street. We’ll have traffic management in place to make it safe for drivers and pedestrians, and information will be shared closer to the time.

Overview

The Melbourne Arts Precinct transformation project will deliver The Fox: NGV Contemporary as a new Australian landmark. With pathways through the building that connect the parklands to Southbank, The Fox: NGV Contemporary will unify the surrounding Melbourne Arts Precinct by connecting the wider neighbourhood and reshaping this important part of the city.

Arts Centre Melbourne’s Theatres Building is home to many beautiful and exciting productions, but after nearly 40 years of hard work, it’s starting to show its age. Therefore, the transformation project includes critical upgrades to bring this wonderful heritage building into the 21st century. To support theatregoers, there will better all-abilities access, new and more comfortable seating, upgraded acoustics, plus two new eating places. To support our performing arts sector there will be better new rehearsal facilities, a new Stage Door and Green Room area, and a new loading dock.

The 18,000 square metres of new public parklands in the heart of Melbourne will create a space for all Victorians to visit and enjoy.

Connections through the precinct will also be improved to make it easier and more enjoyable for visitors and locals to get from the city to the theatres, galleries, Southbank Boulevard and Southgate.

The area is of great significance to our First Nation Peoples and we’re talking with and listening to the traditional owners of the land, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, to promote and share their stories about connections to their land.



Location

The Melbourne Arts Precinct is located in the central Melbourne suburb of Southbank in Victoria.

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The people of the Kulin Nations have gathered on this site for thousands of years and continue to do so today.

History

1877
  • Cooper and Bailey’s Great American International Circus first pitch their tent next to St Kilda Road
1901
  • Fitzgerald Brothers’ take over the site, first opening the Olympia circus building and later the “fashionable rendezvous” Prince’s Court, which included a Japanese tea-house, toboggan, a huge water chute and an open-air theatre
1906 
  • The Glacarium ice skating rink opens on City Road. Dancers skate to orchestral music, and the rink later plays host to the first game of ice hockey in Australia — it's also used for dancing and film screenings
1907
  • Wirths’ Circus takes over from Fitzgerald Brothers’ — they become a mainstay of Melbourne entertainment for the next fifty years, adding a roller skating rink and cinema
1926
  • Olympia is converted into the Green Mill dance hall, replete with replica Dutch windmill and a grand ballroom graced with a fernery and waterfalls where 3000 patrons could dance the night away under a ceiling of twinkling stars
1946
  • Wirths Park reserved for cultural purposes — it would be more than 20 years before the first cultural institution opens on the site
1960
  • Architect Roy Grounds’ master plan for the Victorian Arts Centre Complex is completed, including a new gallery, concert hall and theatres building topped with a landmark spire
1968
  • NGV opens — such is the public affection for the water wall and the world’s largest stained-glass ceiling that it is heritage listed just 14 years after it was completed
1973
  • The Victorian College of the Arts is established — unique among Australian art schools, the VCA offers experimental studio and performance-based tertiary courses in visual arts, music, dance, drama, film and television, and creative arts
1982
  • Melbourne Concert Hall opens (now Hamer Hall) — the city’s premier venue for orchestral performance seats 2,500 people
1984
  • Arts Centre Melbourne theatres building opens — under the city’s landmark spire you’ll find the State Theatre, Playhouse, Fairfax Studio, Australian Music Vault, and a host of other exhibition and performance spaces
1988
  • Australian Ballet House opens — home to the Australian Ballet and Australian Ballet School
1990 
  • Playbox Theatre is renamed Malthouse Theatre after its new home on Sturt Street, which was once a brewer’s malthouse
1990 
  • Southbank Promenade opens, facilitating the urban renewal of Southbank that continues today
1992 
  • Southbank footbridge opens (now Evan Walker Bridge) — this dedicated pedestrian bridge over the Yarra is the first of several to connect the city to the emerging arts precinct of Southbank
1994 
  • ABC Southbank Centre opens — in launching the centre Prime Minister Paul Keating predicts that Southbank will one day become a significant arts precinct
1996 
  • New Arts Centre Melbourne spire completed — changes to the original design of the Theatres Building meant the spire was not constructed as envisaged, but today it reaches 162 metres as originally intended
2002 
  • The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art opens on Sturt Street after almost 20 years in a former gardener’s cottage on The Domain
2003
  • NGV International reopens after a three-year redevelopment, following the construction of a dedicated Australian gallery at Federation Square
2009
  • Melbourne Recital Centre and Southbank Theatre open — it's the city’s second-largest classical music auditorium
  • Southbank Theatre is home to the Melbourne Theatre Company, the oldest professional theatre company in Australia
2013 
  • Testing Grounds opens — an experimental outdoor arts space activates the vacant site at 1 City Road
2014 
  • The Melbourne Arts Precinct Blueprint is released, identifying key Southbank sites for potential development including the Victoria Police stables, the CUB/Fosters building and 1 City Road
2018 
  • The Victoria Police stables reopen as 170 studios and flexible exhibition spaces for VCA students
2018 
  • Buxton Contemporary opens, a gift of philanthropist Michael Buxton and family
2018 
  • The Victorian Government announces an investment of more than $200 million over the next two years to reimagine the Melbourne Arts Precinct, including the purchase of the former CUB/Fosters building

Updated on 28 June 2022