On the eve of Hamer Hall’s re-opening, architect Ian McDougall of Ashton Raggatt McDougall shares a few insights into the physical transformation of this Melbourne cultural icon. Alice Blackwood reports.
July 27th, 2012
It’s a landmark project that’s close to many a Victorian heart. Hamer Hall re-opened on Thursday 26th, following an intensive 25-month period of renovation and reconstruction.
The well-loved cultural icon boasts two famous fathers – architect Roy Grounds who conceived the ’cylindrical mass’ set deep within the riverfront of Melbourne’s Yarra River in Southbank; and John Truscott who’s decorative theatrically inspired interiors of leather and gold.
In revitalising the Arts Centre site, architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall have retained much of Grounds’ concrete structure and Truscott’s glitzy interiors, focusing on improving circulation into and around the building, and refining seating and acoustic qualities in the performance hall.
“It’s a rebirth that captures all the elements everyone loved, and gives them new life, shines them up,” says design director Ian McDougall.
Bringing this 1970s cultural venue into the 21st century has offered some revelations as to the changes in society, technology and the arts. A few of which McDougall highlighted at a recent on-site project briefing.
“In the 1960s and 70s when Hamer Hall was designed, the public realm wasn’t considered a big attraction,” says McDougall. “There was a tight public amenity with more men’s toilets to women’s toilets.” The Hall now has almost doubled the number of women’s toilets – a rule of thumb for any cultural venue, says McDougall.
Further integrating the site into Melbourne’s cultural landscape was the removal of the concrete panels, opening the inner hall to the city, river, streets and people.
In fact, says McDougall, a strong part of the original brief was that “Hamer Hall embed itself in the river activity zone.”
Servicing visitors is an 80% increase in bar length for the main food and beverage facilities. And a sacrifice for the better good: 120 seats were removed from the performance hall as part of acoustic improvements.
Acoustic testing with orchestra members has revealed a new sense of acoustic exchange between the musicians and their audience – which will no doubt be tested in real-time now that the hall is officially open.
The performance hall itself, which is a cavernous void walled in by cliff-like faces (which makes for a breathtaking first impression), and has been painted by artist Ross Turner of Scenic Studios, who first painted Hamer Hall’s walls some 30 years ago.
Reflecting on the project, McDougall says ARM, along with the Arts Centre felt a huge responsibility to ensure the people of Victoria felt the building was being revitalised without being radically changed.
The outcome: “It’s an attempt to continue to write the history of the building, that starts at the original and comes out into something in the future,” he says.
Join the Hamer Hall opening celebrations – hamerhallopening.com.au
A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers
Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!
The workplace has changed – and it will continue to evolve. With dynamism at the heart of clients’ requirements, architects and designers at leading practices such as Elenberg Fraser are using and recommending Herman Miller’s OE1 products for the future workplace.
Bidding farewell to mundane and uninspired office spaces, colour has transformed our workplaces into layered and engaging environments. So we sit down with Karina Simpson, Hot Black’s Workplace Lead, to talk about the influence colour has on the workspace landscape through the prism of Herman Miller’s progressive colour philosophy.
Natural forms meet technological sophistication to produce GH Commercial’s Pattern Perfect® Native Collection of carpets. Step inside the factory to see how local flavours inform the design.
Collectible design has always had its devotees who appreciate and seek out rare and enviable pieces, such as EDITION, by Living Edge
Marc Newson will join Jony Ive’s design team at Apple,according to Vanity Fair’s Kia Makarechi. Ive called Newson “one of the most influential designers of this generation” in a statement to Vanity Fair. The two designers are reportedly close friends.
Scrubba-dub-dub we’re all in a lather: its Cersaie time again. Nicky Lobo is on the ground in Bologna reporting back on the latest in bathing
The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed
In the bid to balance the desire to live amongst nature with the modest footprint of today’s homes, designer Victoria Azadinho Bocconi looks for inspiration in the depths of the Amazon jungle.
Announcing the 2023 Jury for Gaggenau’s Kitchen of the Year.
“My worry is that when we talk about ESG, we’re often referring to the need to better care for the planet, for outdoor environments. But what about the indoors?” In this exclusive Q&A with UNStudio’s Ben van Berkel, he puts a new lens on ESG, and talks about designing STH BNK By Beulah with Cox.