In celebration of last year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF), design studio HASSELL created a scarlet-hued interactive Urban Coffee Farm in Queensbridge Square that encouraged passers-by to consider the origins of their caffeine-rich beverages. This year, the team has been brought back on by MFWF to design another interactive venue, this time under the theme of 'water'.
Currently under construction by Schiavello on the Southbank site, The Immersery: Festival Kitchen, Bar and Raingarden is a three-stage installation more than double the size of the Urban Coffee Farm. On the lowest level is a barge donated by the City of Melbourne which HASSELL is transforming into a floating bar. The barge will be moored to the wharf and offer a variety of exceptional wines, cocktails and beverages.
At concourse level visitors will be greeted by an open-kitchen eatery with lunch and dinner menus handpicked by local chefs. Rising above both the barge bar and concourse eatery is a ‘cloud’ of materials connected to water infrastructure, recycled into an accessible pavilion on the banks of the Yarra River.
HASSELL designer Brenton Beggs explains: “We thought about how to interpret the theme of water and connect it to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival brand, which is one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind in the world. We wanted to design a space that would draw people in and create a sense of excitement and an element of surprise.
"The design represents the three states of water as well as the water cycles, encouraging visitors to consider how we use one of Earth’s most precious resources, at the same time as enjoying the vibrant and lively atmosphere of the festival.
“Water misters, multi-level planting and a water-inspired soundscape all contribute to the sense of an urban retreat, where visitors can relax, and become truly immersed in the landscape. We worked closely with Melbourne Water to create ground-level raingardens that are located around the site. They feature drought-tolerant plants and demonstration vegetable patches in reclaimed 40-gallon drums.”
A proportion of the construction uses recycled or reclaimed materials and some will be reused once again after the close of the festival. This includes 1.5km of PVC piping used to create the ‘cloud’ structure. Melbourne Water also donated 23 repurposed concrete and steel pipes, some of which are 2m in diameter.