The careful restoration of Melbourne Art Deco icon The Capitol Theatre has brought the building up to modern standards, reimagining it as a contemporary destination for culture, education and innovation.
Originally designed by renowned architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin in 1924, Capitol Theatre was Melbourne’s first large scale cinema, as well as the city’s first reinforced concrete building.
The refurbishment includes the redevelopment of the fly tower behind the stage, expanding the theatre’s use from film screenings to also include new media, theatre and conference presentations. This will improve learning outcomes for RMIT students, who will now be educated in digital media, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), film and animation.
One of the key elements of the project is the restoration of the theatre’s geometric ceiling, designed to evoke a crystalline cave, which now includes a complex LED lighting system that can be synchronised with sound.
Another impressive element is the recreation of the carpet in the foyer, which was reproduced based on samples of carpet used in the original building.
However, much of the restoration work isn’t actually visible as it involved bringing the structure up to current building standards. In doing this, significant care was taken not to disturb the structure’s important heritage elements.