The proposed new Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) on Sturt Street is shaping to become much more than a cutting edge venue. While the project has been given coverage to date across a range of mediums, very little has been said regarding the project playing an integral part in the wider push to enliven the Arts Precinct and Southbank as a whole.
With plans for the $105 million complex now on display, it's an apt time to explore the projects intentions for Southbank at large.
Covering a site area of 5,100sqm, project lead John Wardle Architects have been joined by landscape architects ASPECT Studios in conceiving a site-specific response, with the aim of encouraging activity across the site and the wider area. Tying in with initiatives such as City of Melbourne's Transforming Southbank Boulevard project, MCM will create a new active linear axis between Sturt Street and Dodds Street.
Dodds Street has been earmarked by the City Of Melbourne as a prime candidate for conversion to a pedestrian thoroughfare, providing Southbank with additional public space.
Located across from the West Block of the Melbourne University's adjoining campus, this new connector will see the reconfiguration of a number of existing onsite buildings in order to deliver plazas, lawns, more intimate parks and courtyards, set around a common pedestrian pathway. It's expected that when these outdoor spaces (including performance areas) are not utilised by university students, they will be made available to outside organisations.
According to the advertised documents, the MCM's design is in part based upon four key themes held within the wider ranging Melbourne Arts Precinct Blueprint. They are:
Further, the following design principles have been instilled within the MCM design:
To facilitate the above principles, demolition will be required across two sensitive and historic buildings.
Building 877 fronting Sturt Street will be partly demolished, while building 878 is set for full demolition. This demolition will allow for an expanded public realm and the activation of the site's edges with a cafe and end of trip facilities earmarked for the overhauled spaces. Both buildings are partially included under heritage overlay (HO389).
Heritage aside, the new MCM looks to have squared away both its tertiary and public intentions, while also adding itself to the growing list of remedies designed to bring Southbank's somewhat flailing public realm up to scratch.
Construction expected to commence during 2017.