Arts Centre Melbourne

TypeCafeLocationSt Kilda Rd, MelbourneClientArts Centre MelbourneYear2018StatusIn ProgressArchitectCumulus StudioImagesCumulus Studio


Surrounded by the monumental National Gallery of Victoria and the towering ACM spire currently sits Café Cento, housed in a drab plastic Gazebo. To address this aging eyesore, Arts Centre Melbourne challenged Victorian studios to design a “unique and memorable” home for the Café.

The competition winning Cumulus design, titled ‘The Protagonist’, makes a big artistic gesture in this historic location. Taking cues from what lies behind the walls of the Arts Centre, the new cafe extends the interactive visitor experience into the city streets.

In the morning, the theatre inspired curtains will be raised as the cafe opens, then lowered at night to signify the end of service. Once lowered, the curtain can be used for marketing upcoming ACM events and activating the precinct at night with projected visuals.

As the primary feature of the design, golden Kaynemaile was used for the cafe exterior. A fire and UV resistant polycarbonate chainmail mesh, Kaynemaile was originally developed as chainmail for the Lord of the Rings movie costumes.

The Protagonist’s contemporary, functional design makes a big statement, and although temporary, will be right at home among the grand buildings of St Kilda Road.