Arts Centre Melbourne redevelopment, supported by local manufacturing


The centrepiece of phase two in the project is the redevelopment and expansion of Arts Centre Melbourne.

Manufacturers’ Monthly finds out how Townley Drop Forge – a trusted Australian manufacturer of high-quality lifting and rigging components for more than 100 years – is assisting in the redevelopment of Melbourne’s Arts Precinct.

One of Australia’s most iconic venues, the Melbourne Arts Centre and Precinct, is being transformed into one of the great creative and cultural destinations of the world. 

As part of the 2020/21 Victorian State Budget, more than $1.46 billion will be provided to re-develop and add to Melbourne’s distinguished arts precinct. Upgrades of existing infrastructure and expansion of new buildings including the construction of Australia’s largest contemporary art and design gallery is a part of the first phase of the project. 

The centrepiece of phase two in the project is the redevelopment and expansion of Arts Centre Melbourne. An estimation of over 5000 construction jobs will be created during the life of the development, but what is often not spoken about is the positive economic impact these major infrastructure projects have on secondary and tertiary businesses as well as their employees. 

As most of the publicity is often directed, rightfully so, at the overall community benefit these projects give to the people, it is easy to miss those working behind the scenes and how these local businesses can enable a city’s identity in major projects such as this one. 

As part of the various works within the Arts Centre, a contract was issued to upgrade the State Theatre’s flying system. This system involves over 112 battens holding lighting, speakers, equipment, scenery, and personnel. With over 35km of wire rope operated by a new high-level control and hoist system, it moves at speeds of up to 1.6 metres per second. The system is world leading. 

Townley manufactured more than 650 bespoke forged entertainment rigging screws in line with the stringent Australian Standards.

To successfully deliver a cutting-edge system in such an iconic setting required local expertise and Australian made quality. Vertex Engineering Design, as a part of Waagner Biro’s bid to upgrade the system, was the heavy lifter in the works tasked for the removal of the old system and installation of the new. This was an immense logistical challenge. 

When great challenges are presented, intuitive engineering generally prevails. As part of the many challenges faced by the designers and installers including that of how to attach and finely adjust the 112 battens to 35km of wire rope. Townley, a local Victorian manufacturer, with over 100 years of engineering and manufacturing expertise, provided their support. 

Through close collaboration, the engineering team designed a product that the entertainment industry had not yet seen. As part of the journey to creating this product, Townley assisted with concept development, prototyping, testing & verification in their NATA accredited laboratory. Once approved for the project, Townley manufactured more than 650 bespoke forged entertainment rigging screws all in line with the stringent Australian Standards and entertainment industry rigging guidelines. 

The great advantages of these major projects are that it provides opportunities for which the whole industry will benefit from. The Arts centre project has in-turn enabled Townley to create an entertainment specific product range which will not only benefit future Victorian projects but also projects across Australia and the world. A great example of how prosperity is generated through the funding of local Australian projects. 

To have one of the great creative and cultural destinations of the world requires engineers, managers, directors and governments to have a support-Australia-first approach to major projects. Evidently, local manufacturing has the strength, capability and expertise to provide for these projects which are amongst the best in the world. 

Supporting Australian is the support for local businesses and job creation. This will ultimately improve our economy and transcend Australia’s identity. 

Support your local. Support Australian Manufacturing. 

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