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Riverlee + Darklab Opening New Hobart Cultural Precinct in June

May 27, 2019 Events / Whats On No Comments Email Email

After two years of planning, Melbourne’s Riverlee and Mona’s DarkLab announce a new $5 million cultural and entertainment district for the centre of Hobart, to be known as ‘In the Hanging Garden’.

Encompassing nearly an entire city block in the centre of Hobart, ‘In the Hanging Garden’ is a live music and cultural precinct opening to the public at 8pm on Wednesday 5 June, to coincide with the start of Dark Mofo 2019. After the festival concludes, the precinct will remain open and operated by DarkLab year-round, seven days a week.

Award-winning Fender Katsalidis Architects has designed this first stage development of the precinct with the Odeon Theatre at its heart, encompassing the renovated former Tattersall’s Hotel, and extensive outdoor dining, beer garden, and entertainment areas with food trucks, rotating pop-up kitchens with local businesses, and night markets.

Extending access through adjoining properties fronting Liverpool Street, Watchorn Street, and Murray Street, this is the first stage activation welcoming cultural activity into the site, allowing community feedback to help guide Riverlee and DarkLab’s future masterplan. The joint vision is to transform the site into a broader cultural precinct for the city with private capital investment expected to exceed $200 million, promising significant flow-on effects to the Tasmanian economy.

As a company, Riverlee is dedicated to cultural developments that are responsive to their community, Riverlee Development Director David Leesaid.

“It was actually David’s [Walsh] suggestion that at first, we open up our doors and let the city in. We agreed that before we can design a ‘cultural’ precinct for the people, we first need to bring the people into the precinct—to give them the opportunity to explore the site, interact with the space, and to create their own culture.

“It has been an enjoyable journey thus far, and we are both excited and humbled with the opportunity to partner with DarkLab on this project, to deliver something truly unique for the city. And with our partners, we are committed to our vision—to transform this site into a vibrant cultural precinct for the city and the people of Hobart.”

DarkLab Director Leigh Carmichael said if Hobart is to assert its reputation as a cultural leader in Australia, these types of projects are essential.

“We have a vision for this site to become a significant cultural facility in the heart of Hobart. We hope it inspires a reinvigorated CBD, and that other businesses can also capitalise. There is momentum building in Hobart at present, and this project has the potential to be a game-changer for the city centre.”

112 Murray Street, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Odeon Theatre
    • Live music venue in one of Tasmania’s oldest theatres, 167 Liverpool St Hobart
    • Live music programmed and promoted by DarkLab from September 2019
    • Open weekends 7pm–11pm + more
    • 1200 capacity
  • In the Hanging Garden
    • Outdoor dining
    • Beer garden
    • Pop-up kitchens with local producers
    • Open 7 days a week, midday to late
    • 800 capacity
  • Altar
    • Live music venue on ground floor of former Tattersall’s Hotel, 112 Murray St Hobart
    • Operated, programmed, and promoted by DarkLab
    • Open weekends 7pm–11pm + more
    • 400 capacity
  • High Altar
    • Nightclub on first floor of former Tattersall’s Hotel, 112 Murray St Hobart
    • Open weekends 11pm–4am, from September 2019
    • 300 capacity
  • Opening Night
    Wednesday 5 June, 8pm, 112 Murray Street, Hobart, Tasmania
    Free entry, $6.66 beer and wine In the Hanging Garden. Free music in Altar, including David Chesworth, Kim Salmon and a surprise headliner.

THE ODEON IN THE HANGING GARDEN | 167 Liverpool St, Hobart

Built in 1916, the Odeon Theatre’s structure and design is believed to have been based on the Strand Theatre in New York, declared “undoubtedly the finest building in Tasmania” by then-Hobart Lord Mayor LH MacLeod.

The Odeon has survived several different incarnations throughout the past century, including as a 1100-seat movie theatre in its heyday, a Christian church, and ABC concert hall, home to the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

Riverlee purchased the Odeon in 2009, and was granted approval to demolish the building three years ago but instead has partnered with DarkLab inpreserving the famed building, gradually acquiring surrounding titles to add to its growing cultural significance for the city.

Dark Mofo’s Odeon programming begins on the precinct’s opening weekend, with ideas symposium Dark + Dangerous Thoughts running across four days, with keynote sermons, panel discussions, tattoos, and more.

Music highlights during the festival include Teho Teardo and Blixa Bargeld (ITA/DEU), goth rocker Anna Calvi (GBR), neo-soul wunderkindserpentwithfeet (USA), avant-garde cellist Kelsey Lu (USA), synth-pop crooner John Grant (USA), epic doom metal legends Candlemass (SWE), and Dark Mofo’s international multi-band metal showcase event, Hymns to the Dead, plus Australian artists Dirty Three, and the premiere performance of DarkLab-supported Tasmanian artist Costume (Adam Ouston).

The festival’s late-night multi-venue party Night Mass will occupy the entirety of In the Hanging Garden, including the Odeon and Altar Bar, across the festival’s final two weekends.

After Dark Mofo concludes, the Odeon will be programmed and operated by DarkLab, with an increase in programming from a dedicated team.

 ALTAR IN THE HANGING GARDEN | 112 Murray St, Hobart

In the mid-1800s, Tattersalls Hotel on Murray St began its long history of cultural activity, then known as the ‘Bath Arms Inn – Circus and Stables’. Newspapers reported at the time on the venue’s diverse events, including public meetings, animal auctions, and even the foundation of Ashton’s Circus in a rear paddock (now part of the Hanging Garden). The hotel’s long run of entertainment came to a halt in 2016, closing doors due to building faults.

Riverlee purchased the former Tattersalls Hotel in 2017 and now with DarkLab, have renovated, refurbished and restored the property. Reopening in June 2019 as a 400-capacity live music venue, ‘Altar’ is intended as a place of reverence for live music and community gathering.

During Dark Mofo 2019, Altar’s live music series will include international artists such as American junkyard artist and musical visionary Lonnie Holley, classical dream-pop cellist Kelsey Lu, industrial machine noisemaker Author & Punisher (USA), Twin Peaks: The Return remix saxophonistAlex Zhang Hungtai (TWN/CAN), Moscow’s monastic throat-singing ritualists Phurpa (RUS) and grand organist Sarah Mary Chadwick (NZL).

Also playing at the Altar will be Australian artists Briggs, Kira Puru, Sui Zhen, Two People, Ecca Vandal, Kim Salmon, Totally Unicorn, Tralala Blip, Marco Fusinato, These New South Whales, Pagan, Elizabeth, and popular Tassie locals The Native Cats, Slag Queens, Ewah Duo, and 208L Containers, among many more.

After the festival concludes, Altar will remain open on weekends, year-round, with DarkLab operating, programming, and promoting, with post-festival programs to be announced in July.

From September 2019, the first-floor nightclub ‘High Altar’ will also open on weekends, complemented by 24-hour food and coffee at street level—to quote English goth-rock band The Cure, ‘In the Hanging Garden, no one sleeps’.

DINING IN THE HANGING GARDEN | Between Murray, Liverpool, and Watchorn Sts, Hobart

Through the Murray Street frontage of Altar, a laneway entrance will be restored, opening up into In the Hanging Garden, an extensive beer garden and outdoor dining area with an 18-metre-tall Cathedral shade structure, food trucks, rotating pop-up kitchens, catering services, function spaces, and night markets.

Opening throughout the year, seven days a week, In the Hanging Garden will present a variety of multiple new food and beverage offerings within the bookend cradle of Altar and the Odeon Theatre.

In the Hanging Garden will use a specially-designed planting grid referencing the fabled Babylonian tiered gardens, presenting an inverted idea of terracing where foliage forms roofing structures and frames walkways. The dripping greenery will be a living and growing sculpture, contrasting against the original structures and textures that preserve the gritty urban sediment of the site.

With design by DarkLab’s Bruce Mcinven, it’s been a collaborative creative process, involving a number of artisans, including Soda Projects’ Gus Smith and Simon Lewis with blacksmith Pete Mattila, and Champ Co’s Lauren Stellar, plus Lighthouse Signs, Titus Tekform, and Plakkit.

In the Hanging Garden will form a new CBD lunchtime outdoor dining destination from the first week of June, with multiple food trucks trading on the Watchorn St side of the precinct, local businesses occupying rotating pop-up kitchens in the centre, and 24-hour food offerings on the Murray St side. The intention is to remain flexible with a diverse and vibrant cultural mix, in line with the vision for the site to develop responsively to community engagement.

Focusing on fast, fresh and affordable food, kitchen tenants In the Hanging Garden will include ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, a bold new offering from award-winning barista Will Priestly of Pilgrim (also co-owner of Harlequin, Queens, Circle of Life and Aloft), permanently occupying the ‘Red Room’ premises on Murray Street and open 24 hours a day.

Vigil’ is a new Hobart street-food concept from Jonathan Kincaid and Brianna Clancy, graduates of Ethos, Etties and Dier Makr and founders of Ruckus Fried Chicken. With Vigil, they will offer a weekly changing, locally and ethically sourced menu with craft beer and natural wines.

Also joining the offerings will be ‘Kavorka’, a Latvian Orthodox term meaning ‘the lure of the animal’—an exciting new food project from Megan Quill (former co-owner of Tricycle cafe in Salamanca), inspired by her Latvian and Lithuanian heritage.

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