Arts Precinct’s $1.4 billion transformation now underway

Arts Precinct’s $1.4 billion transformation now underway

By Katie Johnson

Southbank will soon be home to Australia’s largest gallery of contemporary art and design with early construction works on NGV Contemporary now underway.

The new gallery will sit behind the existing NGV on Southbank Boulevard amid a new 18,000 sqm public garden, linking Arts Centre Melbourne and NGV International on St Kilda Rd to Sturt St.

Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson said Phase One of construction was currently underway, creating new jobs that were much needed post-lockdown.

“This is an ambitious, once in a lifetime project that will further cement Victoria’s reputation as the cultural capital of our nation,” Mr Pearson said.

“This unprecedented investment in Australia’s largest ever cultural infrastructure project will create jobs and see Southbank’s cultural precinct expand with a new Contemporary Gallery, an 18,000 sqm public space and an upgraded Theatres Building.”

Currently, eight design teams are competing to present an initial design concept for NGV Contemporary.

Up to four competitor teams will then be selected to progress to the second stage of the design competition and the preferred design will be announced in the summer.

An NGV spokesperson said NGV Contemporary would provide a place to discuss, debate and reveal contemporary issues important to our diverse community.

“NGV Contemporary will be a dynamic cultural hub that all Victorians will be proud to call their own,” the spokesperson said.

“It will form an intrinsic part of Melbourne’s creative and cultural identity, a universal civic space where visitors can gather, socialise, learn and interpret our world through a year-round presentation of exhibitions and programs that reflect contemporary life and culture.”

As part of the project, the new public gardens will transform the densely populated Arts Precinct into a greener space with vibrant plants that change with the seasons.

It will also include a collection of spaces for performances, gathering, installations and festivals that will attract visitors from all over the country.

Melbourne architects HASSELL and New York practice SO-IL have already begun work on the gardens, which involve decking over Sturt St between City Rd and Southbank Boulevard.

Arts Centre Melbourne will also benefit from the transformation with upgrades to the Theatre’s Building already underway and a new Centre for Creativity building being constructed next year.

Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Claire Spencer said the Centre for Creativity would include spaces and facilities for Victoria’s small to medium and independent arts sector, a new performing arts gallery and an expanded Australian Music Vault.

“The Arts Centre Melbourne has been at the forefront of the Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation with the State Theatre Fly System replaced earlier this year,” Ms Spencer said.

“The first stages of construction on the Theatres Building will be underway next year and we’re working across the precinct to realise the government’s full vision for the precinct transformation, generating thousands of jobs, rebuilding our creative sector and creating a beautiful new open space for Melbourne.”

In June, the state government announced that Federation Square would be revitalised as

part of the vision and the delivery of the $1.4 billion Arts Precinct redevelopment on St Kilda Rd.

As part of the announcement, the government said it was establishing a new entity –

the Melbourne Arts Precinct Corporation (MAP Co) – to be responsible for our two most important civic spaces that cover Federation Square and the new 18,000 sqm immersive public garden to be delivered as part of the Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation.

Minister Pearson said that MAP Co would take responsibility for the running of Federation Square, ensuring a co-ordinated approach to activating and maintaining these two landmark public spaces.

MAP Co’s creation responds to the 2020 Federation Square review and will strengthen the square’s governance and its cultural and civic purpose •

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