Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)

Completed in 2002, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) is a multi-use facility built for the Victorian State Government in Melbourne, Australia. The project combines the existing infrastructure of three organisations, ACCA, Chunky Move and Playbox, to create a unified major presence in the Arts, and form a precinct with the existing Malthouse theatre building located on the adjacent site.

The building is designed to make reference to its primary function; it is a sculpture in which to exhibit art. The bold form and materiality of the façade is intended to create a strong presence and express with optimism, and in a frugal sense, a robust laboratory for experimentation. Those using the building are meant to feel comfortably challenged.

Referencing the past industrial occupation of the site (warehouses and foundries), the predominant architectural vocabulary is that of the shed; steel frame and taut metal skin. Coupled with the single dominate cladding material (large insulated trays of Corten steel) the sculptural form simultaneously alludes to the industrial age and natural landforms.

Programmatically, ACCA has four gallery spaces off an entry foyer/function pace with service areas and office space. Chunky Move comprises two rehearsal studios and administration space, Playbox has a large set construction facility.

Openings in the external fabric are kept to a minimum to support a broad array of installations, ephemeral and digitally projected work. Pragmatically, the combined wall structure achieves the necessary thermal performance to protect artworks in the event that the mechanical equipment fails.

The presence of the new entity is extended beyond the physicality of the building, by the unifying quality of its landscape. The large central courtyard with amphitheatre, and the outdoor exhibition space along the northern boundary, work to link the complex with the existing adjacent theatres and arts precinct. This device offers increased amenity 24 hours a day to a part of the city that previously had no public open space.




South Melbourne / Woiworung Country




Derek Swalwell, John Gollings