ARM: Avant Garde Architecture in Melbourne

MTC facade corner
MTC facade corner
081103_6068 MTC foyer level 1_1 [Gollings]

081103_6143 MTC Sumner Theatre_1 [Gollings]

081103_5977 MRC & MTC facade stormy weather [Gollings]
081103_7200 MRC foyer main stairs [Gollings]
081103_7477 MRC Elisabeth Murdoch Hall balcony_2 [Gollings]
From top: MTC facade corner at twilight; MTC foyer level, MTC Sumner Theatre, MRC & MTC facade, MRC foyer main stairs, MRC Elisabeth Murdoch Hall balcony
**All photographs by John Gollings; Images courtesy of ARM

Australian design consultancy ARM continues to push the envelope down-under. Their latest projects, the Melbourne Recital Centre and  neighboring MTC Theatre, are turning heads round the globe, and recently earned ARM the Public Buildings category award from the Property Council of Australia Rider Levett Bucknall Innovation & Excellence Awards.

One eloquent judge described the projects as “understandable origami.” Looking at the new buildings, you can’t help but notice their strong angles, musical fluidity and theatrical color and shape – beautifully reflecting the spaces’ roles.

According to ARM, the complementary identities of the 1000 seat Recital Centre and 500 seat MTC theatre (both accessed from a landscaped civic plaza on Southbank Boulevard ) together “create an exciting new civic space within Melbourne’s vibrant arts precinct.”

The Melbourne Recital Centre was designed primarily as a chamber music venue. ARM’s design rationale considered the building itself as packaging for the valued music performed within, which led to its “box inside a box” structure. The Elisabeth Murdoch Hall seats 1000, while the Salon space seats 150 for pre-concert talks and experimental chamber music. The performance spaces feature timber panelling for ideal acoustics. Much of the multilevel foyer is visible from the exterior, allowing passersby a peak inside, and concert goers a view of Melbourne’s skyline.

The drama theatre is the first permanent home for the Melbourne Theatre Company. The Sumner Theatre seats 500 in a single tier, and the Lawlor Studio seats 150 for smaller productions. The building’s facade is composed of iridescent painted steel pipework and black aluminum cladding, creating a pattern that “challenges spatial perceptions through the blurring of 2 & 3 dimensional space – that which appears shaped is actually flat, and likewise, a 2 dimensional surface is actually 3 dimensional.”

For more information on ARM, visit


  1. Bringing up an Avant Garde to the Performing arts theater is the new innovation style which no one hasn’t done like this before. I love how the way they invented a theater by playing the designs and experimenting every architectural details of it. Its the futuristic theater!

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