The Protagonist is the result of a 2018 Arts Centre Melbourne design competition which challenged a curated selection of Victorian architecture studios to design a unique and memorable home for the existing Arts Centre Melbourne forecourt cafe which replaces what looked like a temporary marquee that simply didn’t belong in the precinct.
Designed by Cumulus Studio, The Protagonist creates an opportunity for the theatre to have a presence on the street by engaging with the passing public and creating a new visitor experience relating to the Arts Centre Melbourne . The design plays on the universally understood element of the theatre curtain as a device to signify ‘open’ and ‘closed’. In the morning, the curtain is raised to the desired form (fully open in summer, partially closed for private events) and is a visible, welcoming symbol that it is open from afar.
At night, the curtains are lowered and locked to create a secure compound. The lowered curtain creates a veil which can be used for art projection, marketing and branding of upcoming ACM events, and lighting to activate the precinct at night.
Beneath the kaynemaile curtain lies a polished stainless countertop, used to reflect the heritage St Kilda road pavement and reduce the visual impact of this new addition to the Melbourne arts precinct.