Architecture+Design Community Contest: The theatre series, episode #1- starting at the Southbank Theatre, home of the MTC: Melbourne Theatre Company by ARM Architects for World Architecture Day

in Architecture+Designlast year (edited)

Hello everyone, I hope that you are all doing well out there around the world, safe, happy, healthy, wealthy and well as we join in the Architecture+Design Community Contest to celebrate #WorldArchitectureDay.

For the OCD Community Boost Contest S2 #1: Highlighting Architecture & Design so kindly supported by @ocdb I'd like to share with you the first in a series of venues around Melbourne that have been specifically designed for live performance.

And if you too would like to share you favourite architectural design with us here, then check out this post

Each space has it's own unique style, drawn from a range of architectural styles and periods relevant to the requirements and trends of those times.

Just like each live performance that they become home to, each venue has been composed with their own distinct characteristics, with a harmonic balance between practicality, comfort and elegance, all as intricate and masterful as those performances that they have been purposely built to showcase.

And all are true feats or engineering, some more than others, simply due to the era that they were built in.

The first one I'd like to start off with this week is one of the more contemporary examples built in 2009 by award winning architects, ARM Architects, being the founding directors of the late Stephen Ashton, Howard Raggatt and Ian McDougall who were the joint winners of the 2016 Gold Medal, the highest honour awarded by the Australian Institute of Architects.


So I would like to introduce you to the world renown Southbank Theatre, located on the beautiful Southbank Boulevard, in Melbourne.


Before this team of award winning architects designed the Southbank Theatre for the MTC: Melbourne Theatre Company, according to their website, they traversed Australia and the world to research theatre design for the MTC, which is one of the major performing arts companies in Australia, and one of the largest theatre companies in the English-speaking world.

These locations included the Royal Court Theatre, Hampstead and Steppenwolf and they say, Among other things, we learned that those that reflected the existing culture of the institution they were designed for were much more successful than those that tried to impose a new culture.


Founded in 1953, MTC is also the oldest professional theatre company in Australia, and currently exists as a department of the University of Melbourne.

MTC is Melbourne’s home of live storytelling, producing an annual mainstage season of up to 12 plays, the Cybec Electric play readings series, an annual Education program and more.


Southbank Theatre has two main venues: the Sumner Theatre and the Lawler Studio.

The Sumner is a state-of-the-art, 559 seat theatre offering advanced stage technology and a level of intimacy not previously seen in Australia.

Named after our first Artistic Director, John Sumner, the Sumner has been designed to provide comfort and excellent stage views for all the audience, with a flexible stage that allows MTC to present a wide range of theatre styles, from large scale spectacles down to tightly-focused dramatic performances.


It is a single-rake house with a proscenium arch and no balcony, which creates the very best sight lines from the audience to the stage.

The stage, fly and wing configuration make it arguably one of the best drama facilities in the world. The proscenium and Juliet balconies are adjustable.

The orchestra pit can be raised to stalls level for extra seating. There is a full theatrical grid on the ceiling and the space can be configured as a black box performance venue.


The Lawler Studio is a black box for rehearsals, functions and small performances to audiences of up to 150, perfect for performances on an intimate scale.

MTC’s focus for the space is to produce more works of an experimental, cutting-edge and developmental nature, as well as presenting play readings of new works by emerging playwrights.

The Lawler is regularly used by other companies, highlighting the diversity of performance being created across Melbourne and beyond.


The MTC’s façade is a matrix of glowing tubes in angular box shapes that seem to hover around the black box of the building. It relates to the Arts Centre Melbourne spire but is more graphic. It is like an illusionist painting in that it blurs our two- and three-dimensional perception.

The boxes repeat inside as if we had shone a giant theatre light onto the façade to cast a shadow of itself on the interior walls. There are lounges, bars and a café plus a function room and a large meeting room.


The Sumner Theatre wall panels are perforated with quotes chosen by MTC. They are backlit with LEDs that can change colour to match the content of the performance.


Since opening in 2009, Southbank Theatre has been host to nearly 300 events including the much loved MTC productions Golden Shield, Jasper Jones, Ladies in Black, The Beast, Twelfth Night, A View from the Bridge and Macbeth.

Some of Australia’s best actors have performed on its stages including Marta Dusseldorp, Jai Courtney, Zahra Newman, Caroline O’Connor, Frank Woodley, Lisa McCune, Sigrid Thornton, Christie Whelan Browne and Bert LaBonté.


With dressing rooms to fit up to 22 performers, a loading dock and on-site workshop, wardrobe maintenance area, offices, function rooms and bars, Southbank Theatre is one of Australia’s leading theatre venues and if you would like to find out more about this extraordinary live performance space and the artistry, workmanship and techniques employed in designing and constructing this modern masterpiece, then please make sure you head to the home page of ARM Architects here

(You can see the Southbank Theatre peaking out from behind the NGV- the National Gallery Of Victoria)


Unfortunately, as we are still in lockdown and the venue, like all other venues, is closed, I can't show you any photos of the interior design, only these photos of the exterior that I have taken over the past couple of months, as I am lucky enough to live just around the corner, so frequently walk past this unique expression of creativity and sophistication, so I highly recommend that you checkout the MTC website so you can see for yourself what goes on both in front of and behind the scenes of such a mammoth and magnificent event venue.

As I am not an architect, just a HUGE fan and I do not work at the MTC or the Southbank Theatre- UNFORTUNATELY, all information contained on this page has been copied directly from the sources so I can share with you the most accurate information possible, so please don't hesitate to checkout the source material here for your own benefit, and definitely checkout all of the other incredible projects that ARM architects have been involved in all over the world for so many years- These guys really know how to make a statement, entertain, delight, provoke conversations and spark debate and I am sure that you will be as pleased as I am to discover their immense and magnificent body of work.

And if you like going on tours as much as I do- even if they're from the comfort of your old armchair- for the moment, then click on this link so Theatre Operations Manager, Mark Wheeler takes you on a video tour here

And if you want a more detailed dive into the design and engineering side, then seriously check out these virtual tours here they're freaking awesome

Thank you so much for reading my post , I really hope that you enjoyed it and look forward to your comments and thoughts.


And unless otherwise stated- ALL photographs, all media, material and writings, are all my originals taken by me sometime in the past few decades or so somewhere in my travels and as such, ofcourse they are subject to all international IP and copyright laws and I may have already used them for my own commercial purposes here And here, So please ask first if you want to use any of them as we wouldn't want you getting into trouble. Thank you 😊


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The installation gives the illusion of an cubist abstract painting to life. !discovery 20

Yes it does and every way you look at it gives it an entirely different perspective too.

Yeah I love it for so many reasons.

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This is the first time that I have seen this kind of structure design, it is so amazing and unique. I noticed that the cube-looking things in the night photo are made of rounded tubular steel that gives the illusion of cubes, especially at night.

Yes it is such a great play on the eyes too isn't it.
It gives the illusion of being 3d cubes and with every different angel that you look at it from, takes to to a range of different dimensions within the entire construction- and that is just on the outside, imagine how awesome it looks on the inside with these same and similar elements carried on throughout.

imagine how awesome it looks on the inside with these same and similar elements carried on throughout.

I too is imagining, I think it would really be awesome.

Greetings from the Philippines!

Greetings this is a great work of modern architecture, its design seems to be abstract.

Yes it is very striking to look at isn't it.

Hello @chocolatescorpi. There's no doubt that the Australian city of Melbourne is a hotbed of theatres and architectural wonders in general. The spectacular Southbank Theatre is definitely a visual feast to behold! Just from its exterior facade, you won't miss the mesmerizing glowing tubes that create the angular interplay of angular lines and geometric shapes. The Architects devised a clever way to add an interesting flair of creativity to the entire building. Awesome!

Thank you for joining the OCD Community Boost Contest for Architecture+Design. Since you live in the same neighborhood, did you develop emotional connections with the Southbank Theatre during your daily walks? Were you impressed the first time you witnessed its completion? Were you able to capture some photographs of yourself together with that remarkable piece of architecture?

Well I wasn't around here during it's construction phase and as someone who can never afford to go to events, let alone a live theatre event, it is not a place that I have ever been on the inside unfortunately, so I have only seen photos...

Although I am close to it, literally 2 blocks away around the corner, I usually walk in the opposite direction to get where I actually need to go, unless I have to go in that direction for something specific and these days, since we're still in lockdown, the only reason I have been going in that direction is to go the to chemist which is only a block away from it.

I love looking at it. It looks so striking- especially in comparison to all of the other buildings around it. And it makes me happy to be able to see something so creative- so left of centre- out of the box instead of the same old boxes...and when I walk past, I just can't take my eyes off it as if it has mesmerised me in some mysterious way and I think that it simply because it is so striking in it's uniqueness.

As for selfies, no, I don't do selfies unless someone has a gun to my head and since I am alone, there's no-one here to put that gun to my head- and I still wouldn't do it. I have my very valid reasons.

And infact I am quite anti selfie and not just for myself, but for humanity in general...

I think in the past 18months since I discovered Hive, I have posted maybe 3 selfies and regret that many.

Okay, I see - that's understandable. Thank you for your feedback and for participating in the OCD Community Boost Contest for Architecture+Design. Great post!

Thanks I'm glad that you enjoyed it as it is a design that is worth showing off, but I am not. It's all about the architecture, not me.

The theater building is truly a head-turner. The play of geometric lines gives a dynamic vibe like it's always moving at any angle. Perfect for its use as a theater.I'd love to see this in person one day. Great photos @chocolatescorpi

Yes exactly! like it's always moving at any angle.

And considering it is for theatre you would really want such an eye popping design like that as the back drop to showcase your plays and performance too wouldn't you.

I hope that you can come and see it some too! And if you every do, please let me know and I will take you on the best tours ever! 😃

Thank you so much @chocolatescorpi! I would love that, Australia got amazing architecture and tourist spots to visit, and having a local to tour me would be a wonderful experience! Hehe for now, see you around here on Hive😄

Wow, This building needs to be the landmark of the city. what an exceptionally beautiful design. I absolutely adore it and wish to visit it someday.
Enjoy the weekend friend @chocolatescorpi

An interesting architectural solution and curious findings of designers .. I think that at night it looks brighter than during the day))
Although personally I associate THEATER with the classical style of architecture, columns and all that. Vido I lagged behind the trends of our time.

Yes, I think it certainly looks far more stunning at night than during the day too.

And I will have those styles for you aswell- maybe not quite as grand as your columns though...😃

Ok, I'll be waiting for them to appear :)


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Hello there
happy Sunday friend, how beautiful and interesting it looks.
at night the cubes are perfectly appreciated, I like
apart from the contribution to the culture of the place.
architecture is something that draws our attention even if we are not experts, beauty and good work is recognized by everyone
happy day pretty

Hey there gorgeous!

I do agree, it does look very interesting and not makes you look, but also think- outside the box(es).

We don't need to be experts in architecture and design to know that we like or dislike something- after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and some things, you may not even see beauty in, but can appreciate them in other ways...such as good work, solid construction/feats of engineering....and so on.

So glad that you enjoyed seeing something so striking and unique here!