Rooftop Cinema

Curtin House 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne | 2007

Curtin House sits in the heart of Melbourne. Surrounded by a diverse range of retail, entertainment, business, hospitality and residential uses, the building itself is home to a mixture of activities. Since its purchase by enlightened owners in 2000, the 1920's six level building has become an example of a 'vertical city' through its various internal renovations. Now housing bars, restaurants, retail outlets, a gallery, bookshop, offices, residences and even a Kung Fu school, the building is an exciting cultural & visual addition to the City of Melbourne. Located at the edge of the dense but low scale China Town and ringed by Melbourne's array of towers, the site is a spectacular location for an open air art house rooftop cinema.

The brief involved developing a series of architectural insertions into the existing fabric, drawing its language from the raw and industrial elements of the rear of the building. Encompassing a Cinema foyer, office tenancy, meeting and amenity areas on the sixth floor, to the new access stair, bar, amenities and open air cinema on the rooftop, the project covers some 550m2 of renovation.

Upon arrival on the sixth floor, patrons are greeted with a black plywood clad pod serving as the ticket booth, trimmed internally with lilac velvet and externally with black cyclone mesh dividers. A new open steel tread and cyclone mesh clad stair was hung in the existing light court to gain access to the city roofscape. Recycled timber was used to clad ramps, decks, new amenities building, the bar and pergola.
Concealed LED lighting and a backlit fibreglass store enhance the forms which have black rubber and retractable canvas roofs as protection from the elements.


Tucked behind the parapet of the building facade, these insertions slot neatly into the overall roofscape. Designed in a temporal manner all can be shut down when not in use.

Unveiled as a vast array of striped deck chairs set on lush synthetic 'smartgrass', the cinema area itself affords great viewing with its elevated floating screen. Additional elevated seating is provided on the upper deck with storage underneath. The screen has a small stage to cater for other functions and performances. The city lights, warm night ambience and art house cinema do the rest.

From our involvement in 2001 with the foyer of Curtin House to the capping of the rooftop with the cinema, it has been a pleasure to be associated with the various clients, users and designers within the building. A true visual and cultural dimension has been added to the cityscape.

Project Team: Grant Amon, Delia Teschendorff, Justin Fagnani
Builder: 6th Floor fitout: Andrew Waters P/L
Builder Rooftop: Mc Corkell Constructions P/L
Structural Consultant: Adams Engineering & ARUP(screen) -
Communications Consultant: One Productions
Marketing & Cinema: Hunter, One Productions audio + visual

Awards: 2007 Architeam Awards : Built Work Large
Published: Landscape Architecture Australia May 2007 #114, WestEast Magazine China 2007, Architecture Plus #17 2007, Ecologik France June/July2009

Photos: John Gollings

Rooftop Cinema
Rooftop Cinema
Rooftop Cinema
Rooftop Cinema
Rooftop Cinema
Rooftop Cinema

© 2023 Grant Amon