Cumulus Studio has just been selected to transform Café Sento, a popular café in Melbourne’s world-renowned arts precinct, after taking out the top spot in an architectural design competition hosted by the Arts Centre Melbourne.
Café Sento is nestled between the National Gallery of Victoria and the Arts Centre Melbourne but is often called ‘an ageing eyesore’ by locals. The café is housed in a dull plastic Gazebo, so a challenge was given to a collection of Victorian studios to see if they could redesign a new ‘unique and memorable’ home for the well-known café.
Arts Centre Melbourne sought out designs which made Café Cento ‘more comfortable for customers, increase its serving capacity and project a more generous civic presence’, whilst keeping its great location. The winning design by Cumulus Studio was titled ‘The Protagonist’ and looks at what lies behind the monolithic walls of the Arts Centre, aiming to create a destination that extends the arts-precinct experience into the city streets.
Keith Westbrook lead the design team throughout the operation. The café is now set to have an adjustable external screen that was inspired by theatre curtains.
“The Protagonist’ creates a significant civic presence that directly reflects the ACM brand,” the studio commented.
Every morning the curtains will be raised, allowing for a breadth of natural light, and then at night, the curtains will be lowered to signify the end of service. Once lowered, the curtain can be used for art projections, marketing of upcoming ACM events, and lighting to activate the precinct at night.
Since the curtain formed such a critical feature of the design, extensive research was used to formulate a viable option. Cumulus Studio eventually settled on Kaynemaile, a fire and UV resistant polycarbonate chainmail mesh which was originally developed for the Lord of the Rings movie costumes.
“Keith Westbrook and his team were thrilled to be awarded this opportunity, and I can’t wait to see their work alongside some of Australia’s most important buildings,” commented Cumulus Studio on their entry.
More information on this project can be found here.