Rone: The Omega Project

Australian street artist Rone transformed a condemned Melbourne house in haunting installation The Omega Project

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

We live in a time of constant churn, where old buildings are demolished to make way for the shiny and new. Capturing a moment of nostalgia, beauty and decay, Melbourne mural artist Rone has created The Omega Project, transforming the interior of a condemned weatherboard suburban house in the city's north with his signature wistful 'Jane Doe' female characters. Check out the space, open until Sunday 30 July, or tour its haunting rooms here, including an evocative video preserving the installation for posterity.

ABOVE: The Blue Room at Rone's Omega Project
BELOW: The Hallway

ABOVE: The Living Room

'This was an opportunity to recreate elements of a classic mid-century Australian home in its fragile final moments,' says Rone, 'drawing from memories of homes that I visited growing up, and of the many abandoned houses I have recently explored.' He leapt at the chance to celebrate the early 1900s home at the invitation of residential developer YarraBend, which will demolish this property by the end of the month. Inspired by the idea of a 'fantasy film set', Rone crafted murals for each room, using Taubmans paint to colour the blue bedroom and kitchen, green and mauve dining rooms, sepia living room and yellowed hallway. Stylist Carly Spooner curated the time capsule of dusty, mid-century Australiana ornaments and objects, from a wood-grain TV to figurines and retro phones, with one bedroom strewn with autumn leaves.

Doomed environments draw Rone, who previously memorialised the soon-to-be-demolished Star Lyric Theatre in Melbourne's Fitzroy with in-situ exhibition 'Empty' in 2016. He's also internationally known for his large-scale street art works, from London to New York and Hong Kong, and recently completed a huge portrait of a farming couple for Victoria's rural Silo Art Trail.

We love the video below of The Omega Project, a dreamy, bitter-sweet fragment of the melancholy interiors shot by Defero Productions for Rone's street art collective Everfresh Studio, set to music by Julia Stone. You can also see more sensual glimpses of the atmospheric house on Rone's Instagram feed, a fitting homage to lives lived and spaces lost...
r-o-n-e.com

The Omega Project is open for inspection at 28 Parkview Road, Alphington, 10 minutes' north of the Melbourne CBD, from 10am-5pm, until Sunday 30 July 2017.

Pictures: Tyrone Wright
 

MPavilion 2016

Indian architect Bijoy Jain brings handmade bamboo architecture to Melbourne's latest MPavilion

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

Melbourne's MPavilion series of temporary pavilions is always inspiring, with 2016's offering by Indian architect Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai demonstrating that there is still a place for natural materials in the 21st century. Formed from seven kilometres of bamboo, 26 kilometres of rope and 50 tonnes of stone, the 16.8 metre square summer pavilion represents traditional craft. 'I want it to be a symbol of the elemental nature of communal structures,' says Jain, 'A space to discover the essentials of the world and of one's self.'

ABOVE AND TOP: 2016's MPavilion in Melbourne is formed from sleek bamboo, rope and stone, with an adjacent entrance tower

Launched this October by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, the pavilion is in Queen Victoria Gardens opposite NGV International. Check out the space while enjoying coffee by Three Thousand Thieves (daily, 9am–4pm), or take part in the free four-month programme of events, which spans design and architecture workshops and talks, live music and DJs, yoga and installations, films and fashion shows, kids' activities, dog walks and even a zombie dance class.

ABOVE FROM TOP: An opening in the square pavilion roof connects earth and sky; below it a golden well celebrates water within the paved, airy interior

In contrast to the contemporary, high-tech visions of the previous two annual pavilions – by Sean Godsell and Amanda Levete of AL_A – Studio Mumbai's calming, low-fi structure is part of an international movement championing handmade, human-centred architecture. Jain believes in 'lore', a body of traditional knowledge passed on by word of mouth. At Studio Mumbai this translates into working collaboratively with local artisans and craftspeople to design and build projects though an explorative, creative process. The result harnesses generations-old skills, building techniques and materials, and the ingenuity that arises from working with limited resources. The studio also aims to reflect each location, here the natural park setting, producing architecture 'that contains the life of its environment.'

ABOVE: Models and sketches contributed to the design development

Set on a bluestone floor, sourced from Victoria's Port Fairy, MPavilion features an opening in the centre of its roof to connect earth to sky. Below it sits a golden well symbolising water's vital status. Bamboo poles from India are pegged with wooden pins and lashed together with rope. Slatted roof panels hail from the karvi plant, with sticks woven together by Indian craftspeople. Beside the pavilion a 12-metre-high 'tazia' entrance tower, used in Indian ceremonies, provides a dynamic welcome. Lighting by Ben Cobham of Bluebottle transforms the pavilion at twilight in sync with a soundscape by artists Geoff Nees and J David Franzke.

ABOVE: Naomi Milgrom commissioned Indian architect Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai to create 2016's MPavilion

Popular throughout Asia as a building material, bamboo is still widely used as scaffolding even in cutting-edge cities such as Hong Kong. Earlier on the Fizz we shared Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia's 'Green Ladder' bamboo installation, still on show at Sydney's Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, inspired by the eco-friendly potential of this 'green steel'. Ilse Crawford's 2016 'Viktigt' collection for IKEA also celebrated bamboo as a flexible, eco-chic material for furniture and homewares. 2016's MPavilion proves nature and architecture can walk hand in hand – the perfect match for summer...
mpavilion.org
MPavilion is at Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne until 18 February 2017

Pictures: John Gollings; models and sketches, Studio Mumbai

2015 Summer Architecture Commission – John Wardle Architects

Pretty in pink! Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria unveils a futuristic fuchsia pavilion for summer...

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

With summer approaching in the southern hemisphere, it's the season for perky, pleasing alfresco pavilions. Luckily, Melbourne's John Wardle Architects (JWA) has channelled the zeitgeist, unveiling a soaring, nine-metre-high pink pavilion commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria today. Designed and made in Melbourne, the ephemeral space will host parties, live music performances, talks, workshops, children's activities and picnics over spring and summer, offering a theatrical centrepiece and shady retreat by day, and a striking glow by night.

Adorned with 1,350 hand-folded fuchsia-coloured blooms, the 2015 Summer Architecture Commission pavilion was inspired by the sweeping lines and airy form of the city's 1959-designed Sidney Myer Music Bowl ('an iconic Melbourne building that is an amazing, graceful, exuberant and incredibly innovative piece of civic design of that era', according to JWA). The new pavilion is intended to envelop visitors in rosy, kaleidoscopic pink light as they stand under the 18-metre-wide translucent canopy, formed from origami-like polypropylene (a sustainable, recyclable, eco-friendly material used in Australia's polymer bank notes).

Teaming a low-tech timber frame with a high-tech layer of precision-cut steel, it blends the handmade and the digital, with individually suspended 3D pink polypropylene elements creating its seductive skin. Its open-sided shape – lifting dramatically on high arches – suggests easy, breezy living, but behind the scenes smart 3D modelling and cutting-edge engineering and fabrication make the magic happen. 'Similar to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, a high level of engineering sophistication and material specificity is integral to the design in order to delicately balance the duality of span and strength,' says John Wardle. 'We also asked ourselves could it be disassembled and reassembled? Could it provide for other uses?'

The pavilion is part of a new annual NGV project which sees emerging and established architects and designers invited to create a cutting-edge installation or temporary structure for the gallery, to display in the NGV International's Grollo Equiset Garden. So think pink and check it out...
ngv.vic.gov.au

The 2015 Summer Architecture Commission: John Wardle Architects is at the NGV International, Melbourne, from 24 September 2015 to 1 May 2016. Open daily 10am-5pm, free entry.

Frank Gehry's Sydney showstopper

Architect Frank Gehry's first Australian building puts the beauty into brick and makes wonky angles work wonders 

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

Here at the Fizz we weren’t sure if we’d like Frank Gehry’s first Australian architectural offering. Described as looking like a ‘crumpled paper bag’, the new Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, home to Sydney’s UTS Business School in Ultimo, provoked the usual flurry of divided critical opinion when it was unveiled this February. Standing in front of the university’s striking new edifice, though, on a crisp, blue-sky day, we felt an unfamiliar emotion. Brick lust.

Another brick in the wall
Rarely has brick looked so beautiful. Gehry Partners' team has used around 320,000 custom-made pale-coloured bricks, which reference Sydney’s elemental sandstone heritage. We loved the way the five different brick types have been staggered in sweeping, undulating relief to create a textured, layered, lyrical feel. Achieving this fluid, curved surface on the east-facing facades required corbelling (stepping) bricks to express the building’s organic form. Hand-laid on reinforcing panels, individual bricks jut out to catch the play of light. It’s a subtle yet stellar look.

'The idea of using brick was part of the community here,' says Canadian-American starchitect Gehry, who admires Sydney’s humane 19th-century high-rises. 'Creating a sense of movement to replace decoration is a primitive one, actually. It comes from the fold.'

TOP: Sydney's Dr Chau Chak Wing Building rising above Ultimo
ABOVE RIGHT: The curvy, tessellated surface of brick and angled glass
BELOW: Five, custom-made brick types form the textured exterior

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Cubist angles
Ah, those Cubist artists would love Gehry’s signature radical geometry, which gives the building’s different modules a fantastical, disjointed Dr. Seuss appearance, with blocks piled upon blocks at jaunty angles. Inspired by treehouses, Gehry wanted his creation to be a ‘growing learning organism with many branches of thought, some robust and some ephemeral and delicate.’

Windows to the world
We also liked the multiple, deep-framed windows on the exterior, which are often sited quite close to one another, yet reflect wildly different views. Due to their alternating angles, you might see a tree reflected in one, a wall in another, a nearby edifice in a third and the sky in a fourth. It’s a cornucopia of vistas that keeps the experience of looking at the building dynamic and ever-changing. A vertiginous glass ‘curtain wall’ on the west-facing aspect is another dramatic detail, dropping down the building like a crumpled shard, providing a ‘waterfall’ of clashing reflections.

 

ABOVE: A vertical 'curtain wall' of glass reflects the environment
BELOW, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Deep, angled windows capture multiple views of the surrounds

Cocooning classrooms and cloud nine
Two oval classrooms add form to the ground-floor atrium void, constructed from around 150 chunky, glue-laminated radiata pine beams from New Zealand. They also feature the world’s longest timber-concrete composite floor. Their intimate log cabin vibe and oval tables are intended to bring people together, with smaller classrooms and more flexible, open-plan spaces encouraging creative learning. Acrylic cloud-shaped pendant lights in the lower public areas and cafés bring papery textures to the interiors, and are a whimsical reminder of the sky. Let’s hope our invite to a party on one of the lofty terraces is in the post…

BELOW: Oval classrooms are a cocoon of warm wood

Eco smart
Ticking eco-friendly boxes, the building has a five-star Green Star Design rating, using sustainable timber, energy-efficient air-con and harvested rainwater in a roof-top tank for use in toilets and irrigation. There are also 160 bicycle parking spaces in the basement, along with showers, lockers and changing areas, to encourage cycling (compared to just 20 car spots).

Space-age stairways
Dominating the main lobby, a polished, jagged stainless-steel staircase forms a sculptural focus point, typical of Gehry’s space-age style. Manufactured by Queensland's Urban Art Projects, it’s intended to encourage flexible interaction of people and ideas. There are 12 storeys above ground, and 14 in total. Another stairway, made of Victorian ash, wraps around an oval classroom on level 3, linking to a student lounge above. Cocooning just got contemporary.

ABOVE: Sculptural staircases include a stainless-steel lobby head-turner 

Cultural ribbon
Named after the Australian-Chinese businessman and philanthropist who donated $20 million to the project, the landmark Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is bounded by Ultimo Road, Mary Ann Street and Omnibus Lane in Ultimo, rearing over nearby Chinatown. An entrance is also planned from The Goods Line, a pedestrian thoroughfare similar to The High Line in Manhattan, currently being developed by Aspect Studios as an urban space. Sydney’s newest icon will also form part of the ‘Cultural Ribbon’, a foreshore walk which will run from the Australian Museum, Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Opera House to the design-focussed Powerhouse Museum at the southern end of the city via Barangaroo and Darling Harbour’s Maritime Museum.

Crumpled paper bag? We consider it a compliment. 

Pictures: Sophie Davies, Andrew Worssam worssamphotography.com 

Wonderland: The Fat Duck Down Under

When Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck waddled down under foodies were aflutter. The Fizz just wanted to know what interiors the wacky wizard would serve up...

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

It was the talk of the southern hemisphere. When news broke that culinary Willy Wonka Heston Blumenthal was bringing his megahit British restaurant The Fat Duck – and its entire staff – from Bray to Melbourne’s Crown this February for a six-month stint, foodies were beside themselves. The UK restaurant was being refurbished, hence its Australian ‘holiday’. More than 250,000 fans across the Asia-Pacific vied in a ballot for coveted golden tickets; 14,000 got lucky.

Naturally, the 15-course, four-and-a-half-hour tasting menu at The Fat Duck Melbourne is the stuff of magic (for AU$525 a head, minus the booze bill, you’d expect bangs and whistles). But does the look of the space give the courses on the plate a run for their money? Despite the mainstream location (the Crown complex sports a garish casino alongside A-List eateries), local design studio Bates Smart and London innovation agency Seymourpowell dished up enough theatre to satisfy our appetite. Here are our tasty style highlights…

Entrée
Like disappearing down a rabbit hole, guests enter the third-floor space to discover a world of typically Heston whimsy and surprise. A long, sultry tunnel beckons at the entry, illuminated at the end by what looks like a tiny door, yet turns out to be a flickering screen showing chefs at work behind the scenes. The sloping ramp creates the optical illusion of guests becoming larger, as the corridor gets smaller. A huge black glass sliding door then opens to reveal a sexily lit, dark-walled dining room, playing on chiaroscuro – bold contrasts between light and darkness.

Main course
Seating 50, the chic yet restrained dining room boasts spot-lit white leather booths, crisp-clothed tables, purple velvet chairs, plush carpet and inky lacquered panelling. Tables for two overlook the Yarra River, with wow-worthy views through angled floor-to-ceiling windows. The footprint is much bigger than Bray, with more kitchen fire power. Despite being a temporary pop-up, its ‘opulent but calm and relaxed’ feel was a hit with Heston, who also reckoned the lighting (by Melbourne firm Electrolight) was the best he’d seen in a restaurant.

TOP: The giant interactive jigsaw, starring culinary superhero Heston
ABOVE RIGHT: Mr B beside the wacky wall-mounted fob watch
BELOW FROM LEFT: Signature Duck dishes: Jelly of Quail, Marron Cream with oak moss; Mad Hatter's Tea Party with mock turtle soup; multi-sensory Sound of the Sea

Amuse-bouche
A surreal, Daliesque golden fob watch mounted on the wall counts down the days until the last of the 280 services on 15 August 2015, before the hands freeze and the Fat Duck flies home. It also tells you the time in Bray and Melbourne, and will return to Bray as a souvenir. Its inspiration was the Mad Hatter’s fob watch, which connects with the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party dish on the menu (diners dip an edible fob watch into the mock turtle soup to mimic Lewis Carroll’s famous story).

Dessert
A giant, eight by two metre interactive jigsaw takes pride of place on the main wall, bearing an image of a caped Heston in galaxy-print trousers, looking for all the world like a North Korean propaganda hero. In a playful touch, all diners receive a piece of the jigsaw to add to the picture, which will only be completed by the last guest. At 19,500 pieces it could be the world’s biggest jigsaw, according to Heston, who maintains it wasn’t his idea to take such a starring role!

Palate cleanser
We love the flock of clear glass terrariums, filled with sculptural, spidery-shaped plants, which line the glossy, black window ledge. A mix of bell jars, bendy tubes, bottles and squatter vessels in various sizes, they’re a stylist’s dream. Running the length of the room, the laboratory-chic urban garden affords peek-a-boo vistas of Melbourne's cityscape. Glass pieces and other art works are also on loan from David Walsh, owner of Hobart’s dramatic MONA (Museum of Old and New Art).

ABOVE: Terrariums on the window ledge reveal curious, alien vegetation
BELOW: Elegant yet theatrical, interiors play on bold contrasts of light and dark

Digestif? Following the return of The Fat Duck to Bray in late September, Dinner By Heston Blumenthal will take up permanent residence at the Crown Melbourne – inspired by the London original, and the only Heston restaurant outside the UK. Reservations aren’t yet open, but expect to form a disorderly queue…
thefatduckmelbourne.com

The Fat Duck, Level 3, Crown Towers, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank, Melbourne