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Architecture: The Ludlow Formation

May 4, 2011

Maddison Architects’ new bar and restaurant on Melbourne’s Southbank explores a raw and robust aesthetic, in contrast to the sheen of other riverside venues.

The Ludlow Formation is a new bar and restaurant and is the last of the venues to be finished as part of the recent redevelopment works to the ‘Riverside Quay’ Buildings along Southbank in Melbourne. The project is an investigation into what makes public hospitality venues tick, what role context plays in interpreting a response and, ultimately, how designers might contribute.

The venue’s design is a reaction against the nearby casino and other shiny adjacent franchises, expressing something intrinsically more robust. We were drawn to the nearby Princes Walk Vaults and the Banana Alley Vaults, which endure as “haunting” Victorian engineering and architectural solutions to the river’s edge. Collectively the idea of these river vaults, the generic condition of the cave-like concrete tenancy and the desire to exhibit a modestly robust venue all seemed to merge and conceptually charter the design.

Throughout the venue all structure is clearly expressed. Services are carefully integrated, fully exposed and the notion of concealment has been avoided. Material selections have been made almost as an anti-response to other Southbank venues, with the intention of surprise and balance: raw against refined, warm against cold and familiar against the unfamiliar.

Detailing of all components is reoccurring and reads as a continuum. Overall, the total sum of all new works and structure form a detached assemblage within the confines of the existing concrete cave. Like some form of erosional remnant this considered assemblage expresses only what is required to deal with its given condition in response to its ‘charged’ context.

*Team* Architects: Drew Carling, Amir Shayan, Peter Maddison, Chris Jones

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