Grimshaw has transformed the Meat Market in North Melbourne into a giant installation that literally wraps around the events at the hub for Melbourne Knowledge Week (MKW18), the City of Melbourne’s annual festival which explores the smart and innovative future of Australia’s fastest growing city.
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Photography: Michael Kai, Shannon McGrath
From the architect: Comprising of approximately one square kilometre of fruit netting, the tensile structure has been manipulated to provide an atmospheric experience of movement and light that envelops and connects the programmed events and lively discussions of MKW18.
Grimshaw Managing Partner and MKW18 City Design Ambassador, Neil Stonell, says, “Our design takes its cues from the term ‘watershed’, which we’ve interpreted as a collector of ideas, turning points, and breakthrough moments about our city’s future. It’s also an acknowledgement of water as our most sacred and increasingly scarce resource.”
Watershed is an exploration of surfaces and movement which exploits the properties of the netting to create a form that stretches, flows, and at times creates a moiré effect within the space. A data-driven lighting projection created by Digital Media Design at Swinburne University, activates and illuminates the netting to add further depth to the installation.
Designed in collaboration with Arup, Supa Dupa Industries, and Swinburne University, Watershed’s form responds to the tight constraints of the site; a one-day bump in, no fixings to any part of the interior of the heritage protected Meat Market building, and a minimal budget for materials.
The design team has applied a disciplined approach to incorporating recycled and repurposed building materials, while the 24-hour install limit has required high-level creative thinking and collaboration from the design and construct team.
Stretching to lengths of 25 metres at points within the Hub, the netting is connected by rope to existing theatre rigging elements within the interior of the Meat Market. The netting is the only new material to form part of the Watershed installation, and will in turn be repurposed to service local food growers. As part of the design process Grimshaw met with Wurundjeri Elders to gain awareness of the traditional land owners’ principles of sustainability, learning that watersheds, in themselves, are landscape forms that have shaped the social bonds of Indigenous Australians - a serendipitous alignment with the installation’s theme of coming together to share knowledge.
In addition to the netting, vintage artefacts of hydraulic engineering – enormous wood casting moulds salvaged by Supa Dupa Industries – speak of the scale and purpose of servicing our cities, prompting visitors to think about what this infrastructure may look like in the future.
Chair of the Knowledge City portfolio, Councillor Dr Jackie Watts, said the City of Melbourne is incredibly excited to have Grimshaw on board to design and build Melbourne Knowledge Week’s key installation. “With a global reputation for exciting and innovative work, Grimshaw have delivered an amazing and unique experience,” Dr Watts said.
“As a key partner for Melbourne Knowledge Week 2018, Grimshaw exemplifies the depth of design and architectural excellence found in Melbourne and which helps to drive the vibrant knowledge economy in our great city.”
The Tensilation Modular Canopy System created by Grimshaw’s Industrial Design Team and manufacturer MDT-tex, provides a shapely waterproof shelter in the exterior spaces of the Hub. Through form and digital projections, Watershed is a conduit for ideas and a wrap around the events of MKW2018, which runs until 13 May at the Meat Market in North Melbourne.
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