See how the historic Victoria Police Mounted Branch Stables have been transformed into new artist studios, work and meeting areas, and a performance space for the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.
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VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Professor Barry Conyngham, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music: "So here we are in The Stables facility, part of the Southbank redevelopment which has been going on now for a number of years and represents an extraordinary development of teaching facilities for our students.
"The stables, of course, have been here for over a hundred years. This building once housed the mounted police of the Victorian Police, and now will hold Visual Arts students. The adaptation of this building enables a kind of open air, and even the preservation of the horse stalls is also very functional."
Kerstin Thompson, Kerstin Thompson Architects: "When we first started work on the project it was just such a beautiful space – so a big consideration was how to hold on to the best aspects of what was there and still transform it to suit the University’s brief."
Dr. Kate Daw, Head of VCA Art: "Because we are a studio-based school, we had to put a lot of studios in here. There was an absolute caveat that we had to have the stables retained so that skeleton of the stables that runs through the downstairs I think is really beautifully resolved.
"There are two studios in each stable bay and as you walk along downstairs it’s really fabulous to see the artwork emerging. As you walk along there’s this fantastic sense of almost repetition of space but within each one such different things are manifesting."
Kerstin Thompson: "A big thing when you have a really striking geometry to start with, is how do you put new things into it without undermining that. In terms of the octagon, that’s the most dramatic space probably in the building.
"We decided that the upper level seemed like a lovely spot for more executive uses – hence the meeting room in the centre. The table in the centre has a glass section on the top of it and from there you can see down through to the ground floor level. Perhaps more importantly, from there you can look back up.
"And on the ground-floor level it’s a really a very multi-directional space in that it’s the primary entry to The Stables, and from there you can go to the Performing Arts space or through the courtyard, so it has to work in all those directions. And it’s designed with a whole series of sliding screens, so it can adapt according to the use that’s preferred. Most importantly, it works well as an exhibition space."
Kate Daw: "At the end of the year, when we do our Grad Shows, the studios will pack down and those walls that are pulled out in the middle of the space will be pushed back and the space will open up again as an exhibition space."
Barry Conyngham: "The other wing of his building is the original exercise area, or dressage area, kind of an arena-size, a very big space, and that’s for all the other arts: Theatre, Music Theatre, Dance … we can rehearse an orchestra, we can have jazz groups. It’s a terrific facility to bring us all together on this campus."
Kerstin Thompson: "What’s fantastic today is to see how different students have set up each of their spaces – you just get this huge array of how humans use space."
Kate Daw: "When we let the students in, some of them were worrying about making a mess saying, 'It’s too clean, it’s too beautiful'.
"But as I said, 'Someone’s got to spill the first can of paint, it may as well be you'.
"They’re all now working away, and there’s a bit of mess lying around and it’s starting to look more like an art school.
Barry Conyngham: "This is a building that symbolises what happens when the University gets support from philanthropy. And the two big Foundations that have made this building possible are the Myer Foundation and the Potter Foundation. Both Charles Goode and Martyn Myer quickly realised that this building could become very special, transforming it into an artistic cauldron where artists can work.
"Now people can walk into this building and say, 'Wow!'. And there is lots of 'wow' in this building, and it’s the result of people having a concept, selling the concept, realising the concept."