The Australian Ballet


Located in the heart of Melbourne’s Arts Precinct, the refurbishment of The Australian Ballet – one of the world’s leading ballet companies – set out to expand and renew, to enable the Ballet’s facilities to operate at the same level as their performances, and be a celebration of everything that makes the Ballet a global success, from the dancers to the behind-the-scenes staff.

Set over approximately 4,000sqm on two floors, both architectural and interior modifications and additions were carried out on the Ballet-owned building. The new workplace caters to 110 staff and 79 dancers, and allows for future expansion. New areas include reception, workplace, a music library, a music practice room, a double-size studio (designed to incorporate the stage of the State Theatre where the Ballet performs), and a roof extension to allow for maximum dance lifts.

A new steel staircase and void connect the dancers’ spaces to the open-plan workplace above. The state of the art facilities include dancers’ private common room, medical suites (doctor and consultant rooms), dancer change rooms, recovery room with specialised ice bath, gym, physio and pilates/body conditioning rooms, as well as a new boardroom, public café and adult ballet class amenities. The diverse workplace brief, which has allowed the dancers to have an entire service area on the same floor as their change rooms and existing studios, also encourages them to mingle with staff as they move around the various spaces of the facility.

References to natural Australian tones and the pointe shoe were blended with Fibonacci stone to develop a bespoke terrazzo tile that complements the subtle tones of the ballet shoe. Transparent and semi-transparent materials provide glimpses of the dancers within their work environment, hinting at their enigmatic presence while maintaining their privacy. As a canvas against which the personality of the dancers and back-of-house teams takes centre stage, the design allows the inherent vitality of the Ballet to dominate.

Photography: Lillie Thompson.