'I must pay tribute to the architects, ARM... who showed such extraordinary willingness to absorb both the expertise and the bloodymindedness of their clients... the architects strove to massage the various needs into a homogenous and architecturally thrilling whole.' - Simon Phillips, artistic director
The site of the Melbourne Theatre Company and Melbourne Recital Centre is the heart of Melbourne's arts precinct. The addition of two striking facilities on Southbank Boulevard fills the long term gap in the performing arts accommodation in Victoria for contemporary theatre and acoustic music. Their presence creates a bridge between the Victorian Arts Centre, the NGV and Federation Square on the river and the Malthouse and ACCA to the south on Sturt Street, finally integrating Melbourne's premier arts precinct.
The new home for the MTC is a 500 seat drama theatre, equipped with the latest theatre technology and full back stage facilities designed to provide the highest level of amenity for the players and crew. The Sumner Theatre is a single rake house without balcony, providing the very best sight lines to the stage. The stage, fly and wing configuration make this one of the best drama facilities in the world. In addition, there is the Lawler Studio; a full rehearsal hall, capable of being used for functions and small performances seating up to 150 patrons. At front of house are Script bistro, patron lounges and bars.
Viewed at night the exterior of the building is a mesmerising matrix of glowing tubes, hovering around the black box of the building, reminiscent of the tubing on the Arts Centre spire, but more graphic, like an illusionistic painting, blurring two dimensional and three dimensional perception. ARM's design direction has been to draw on the shared traditions of spatial ambiguity that are imbedded in the histories of both architecture and the theatre. The building inside is energetic, with the texture and reminiscences of the history of those who have been a part of the MTC.