- Project Management:Gallagher Jeffs, Tim D/Antoine, Andrew Minty
Text description provided by the architects. The Australian Ballet is one of the world’s premier ballet companies, it has delivered extraordinary performances for over 50 years and is located in the heart of Melbourne’s Arts Precinct alongside the NGV, Arts centre and Hammer Hall.
The 13 million dollar refurbishment undertaken by HASSELL set out to expand and renew; to enable The Australian Ballet facilities to operate at the same level as their performances. The project has many different types of spaces catering for 110 staff and 79 dancers (plus capacity for future expansion) ranging from workplace, public café, specialist medical facilities, dancer’s change room, common room and a large dance studio designed to fit the stage of the State Theatre where the Company regularly performs.
The color pallet is constant throughout, the light, minimal approach acts as a canvas allowing the seasonal changing colors and personality of the company to shine and take centre stage. The pallet strongly influenced by the Australian landscape and the silk of the ballet shoe itself are occasionally complemented with a dramatic punch of deep navy blue. Bespoke detailing throughout reflects the couture of the company and is evident in the beautiful custom terrazzo flooring HASSELL developed with Fibonacci Stone as fragments of the ballet shoe.
The interior architecture plays on the concept of stage and performance, a layering effect of frosted glass and sight lines allows glimpses into the ‘backstage’ of the ballet company while still keeping the mystery alive. A centralized 16mm steel ribbon stair connects the two levels, just wide enough for two tutu’s to pass each other, the project explores the unique needs of the client and celebrates their legacy.
The cleaver use of materials, forms a balance between delicate and strength, a metaphor for the dedication, athleticism and prowess of the Australian Ballet performances. This notion is skilfully captured in the custom glass pointe shoe storage room, visible form the public café. Each glass segment houses the shoes for one dancer, as they go on tour the display changes and reflects the changing nature of the company, the vigilance of the dancer’s tools and dedication to their art.