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DESIGN & STYLE

Melbourne's Best New Spaces of 2018

Six of the most stunning and thought provoking new buildings, artworks and venues to arrive in Melbourne this year.
By Concrete Playground
November 20, 2018
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Melbourne's Best New Spaces of 2018

Six of the most stunning and thought provoking new buildings, artworks and venues to arrive in Melbourne this year.
By Concrete Playground
November 20, 2018
  shares

MELBOURNE'S BEST NEW SPACES OF 2018

Six of the most stunning and thought provoking new buildings, artworks and venues to arrive in Melbourne this year.

Our city is constantly changing and evolving, with elevated train lines being erected, airports being overhauled and even plans for sky-high flying taxi ports being thrown around. And amongst all these big infrastructure changes, small, carefully designed spaces popping up. In the backstreets of South Melbourne, a dilapidated mill has been transformed into a dining and wining destination; in St Kilda, the streets have been decorated with a colourful celebration of the local LBGTQI+ community; and in the CBD, a 162-year-old building has received an $88 million makeover. These are the spaces that are really catching our attention, the ones that are quietly evolving the community — through innovation and sustainability — and are accessible to you.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Melbourne to be a better, braver city. And so, these six new spaces were nominated for Best New Space in Concrete Playground's Best of 2018 Awards.

  • 6

    Step right up, folks — the circus has come to town. Though it’s not the kind with animals and screaming kids, but rather an extravagant circus-themed arcade bar set to boggle all the senses. Set inside a vibrant, sprawling space at The District Docklands, Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq is the latest venture from the Funlab crew (Holey Moley, Strike Bowling Bars). Prepare for a serious sensory overload as you cruise this room, between the buttery scents from the old-school popcorn stations, the tunes emanating from the DJ booth and the hyped-up sounds of 67 different arcade games. Here, you’ll find everything from dodgem cars, Mario Kart and VR experiences, to six bowling lanes and Jurassic Park shoot-out games. All that gaming is sure to prove thirsty work, but Archie’s bar offering holds its own, with a slew of spiked shakes and cocktails as OTT as their surrounds. Meanwhile, food is American-diner-meets-theme-park, with a playful circus twist.

    Words: Libby Curran. Images: Jacob Conner/Good Gravy Media and Eugene Hyland (food). 

    Vote for Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq

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  • 5

    The Grand Dame of Swanston Street, the State Library Victoria, has been given a makeover. At the halfway point of the building’s $88.1 million revamp, visitors will now find two new reading rooms, a dedicated events space complete with huge production kitchen and space for 220, and a new lounge off Russell Street. There’s also a new Readings bookstore that eclipses the original library outpost, as well as brand new cafe Guild, helmed by the team at Almond Milk Co. When you need a break, check out the 29-metre-long original work by Melbourne artist Tai Snaith, which is bound to provide some surefire inspiration. A new entrance to the building has been opened on La Trobe Street, while the historic Russell Street entrance, closed for more than a decade, has made its triumphant return complete with a lounge and welcome area. Heading up the transformation are Australasian firm Architectus and Scandinavia’s Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects. The library’s Swanston Street entrance and ground floor are currently closed to the public while they’re given their own refurb and are expected to reopen by spring 2019.

    Words: Libby Curran. Images: Patrick Rodriguez.

    Vote for the State Library of Victoria

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  • 4

    You’ve got a new reason to venture into the backstreets of South Melbourne, now the ever-evolving, multi-faceted Half Acre has opened its doors to the public. Named after the impressive size of the inner-city block of land it calls home, the new venue sits in the site of a former mill. Here, a group of hospitality veterans has transformed an unloved industrial site into an inviting assembly of indoor and outdoor spaces, that we’re forecasting will get a serious workout in the months to come. Across its two buildings, it has an events space, bar and all-day eatery — and it’s a design lover’s dream. Modern design blends effortlessly with nods to the past, exposed brick and reclaimed timber complemented by contemporary finishes, including handmade light fittings by the likes of Henry Wilson and Anna Charlesworth. At the site’s heart, a greenhouse-inspired space holds the open kitchen and restaurant, where Head Chef Eitan Doron is turning out a share-friendly offering that slips easily from lunchtime to night.

    Words: Libby Curran. Images: Tom Ross

    Vote for Half Acre

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  • 3
    Boasting a majestic piece of Point Lonsdale real estate, complete with 360-degree views of the bay, Lon Retreat and Spa is the latest incarnation of luxury accomodation Lonsdale Views. It opened its doors in October, following a huge, 18-month transformation of the 200-acre family-owned property. The luxury retreat features seven sanctuary-like suites, each one decked out differently to mirror a particular aspect of the surrounding landscape.  As well as the plush rooms, Lon boasts its own private beach access, a guest lounge with an open fire and views across the ocean, a private art gallery showcasing local works, and an indoor heated pool fed by mineral water. In the spa, you’ll also find an OTT eight-jet shower. Outside the retreat, you’ll find nature walks spread all across the property, if some fresh air and leg stretching is on the agenda.
    Words: Libby Curran. Images: Nikole Ramsay Photography. 
    READ MORE VOTE NOW
  • 2
    It’s the Japanese fine dining experience characterised by intricately plated dishes, an intimate setting, and a produce-led menu that celebrates that perfect balance of taste, texture and precision. But we bet you’ve never experienced the concept of kaiseki quite like you will at Ishizuka, a contemporary 16-seat restaurant from famed chef Tomotaka Ishizuka, situated in Melbourne’s CBD. The subterranean Bourke Street restaurant is only tiny, but delivers big things in the flavour department, as Tomotaka delivers an expert interpretation of one of Japan’s most respected culinary traditions. Providing a fittingly dramatic backdrop to Ishizuka’s culinary offerings is an avant-garde space courtesy of acclaimed design practice Russell & George. Diners sit inside a large-scale dome lantern, backlit and filled with flora, and custom-made tableware by Kyoto ceramicists Shigeo and Yotaro Takemura helps bring Tomotaka’s food to life.
    Words: Libby Curran. Images: Felix Forest. 
    READ MORE BOOK A TABLE VOTE NOW
  • 1
    St Kilda Rainbow Road

    Following in the very bright and joyful footsteps of Taylor Square in Sydney, Melbourne’s St Kilda is now home to a 35-metre-long flag down Jackson Street. The road is a public display of the City of Port Phillip’s support for marriage equality and a celebration of the area’s LGBTQI+ community, as well as a way of injecting a little colour and joy into the days of everyone who treads across it. Jackson Street makes up part of the busy Fitzroy Street precinct in St Kilda, and is considered to be highly visible to those walking, riding, tramming or driving. Acting Mayor Cr Dick Gross said the area’s long-standing history with, and commitment to, the LGBTQI+ community makes it the perfect spot for the rainbow road. The area has hosted the annual Midsumma Pride March for 23 years. Head along to the new St Kilda rainbow road, take a photo — do watch for cars — and help spread colour (and positivity) throughout the city.

    Words: Kat Hayes. Images: Sanjeev Singh.

    Vote for St Kilda Rainbow Road

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Top image: Ishizuka by Felix Forest.

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