the australian ballet is one of the world’s leading ballet companies and has delivered sell-out performances for over 50 years and, naturally, their home needed to reflect their legacy. the HASSELL design for its facilities focuses on five guiding principles: transparent, bold, form, australian, and layered. these principles allow staff and dancers to express their talents on and off the stage, while reflecting the ballet’s disciplined, ambitious, and flexible nature. the diverse, brave and determined attitude of australia was imperative to the brief, as well as ensuring the space will support the development and long-term needs of the australian ballet through a functional yet inspiring environment.

HASSELL australian ballet venue's design by draws from the subtlety of pointe shoes designboom
all images by lillie thompson



HASSELL senior architect, greta stoutjesdijk, explains that it was imperative to get this rare project right to ensure the future of australian ballet remains of a world-class standard. ‘this was such a unique opportunity to not only work with, but contribute to the future of a world-leading performing arts institution. these projects don’t come along often, so ensuring we successfully delivered the individualized facilities and personality of the australian ballet’s new home was imperative,’ she said.

HASSELl australian ballet venue's design by draws from the subtlety of pointe shoes designboom



the unique needs of the dancers were met by subtle details integrated into the design. the centralized white circular staircase connects the two levels, specifically designed wide enough for two dancers in tutus to pass each other without a costume disruption, while the circular shape mimics the ribbon from a ballet shoe twisting up the ankle. in a twist of focus, the production staff is no longer hidden behind the scenes; there are plenty of open-plan common areas and workstations visible from public areas. this also allows both staff and dancers to cross paths throughout the working day, while the frosted glass pavilions create silhouettes of movement through layers and openings, heightening the mystery and privacy requirements of the dancers. HASSELL worked closely with fibonacci stone to develop a bespoke terrazzo tile that connected the levels and functional spaces, inspired by the soft pink hues and silk of the ballet shoe.

australian ballet venue's design by HASSELL draws from the subtlety of pointe shoes



functionality and theatre were combined for the pointe shoe store, which demonstrates the cycle of a dancer’s tour schedule. each glass box within the custom unit is home to the shoes of one dancer, who goes through a large number of shoes, sometimes up to three per performance. as the performances are rehearsed and taken on tour, the pointe shoe store depletes and grows throughout the year. with a variety of different spaces catering for 110 staff members and 79 dancers (with capacity for future expansion) the new space also includes a public boutique café, specialist medical facilities, and a world-class recovery room including above ground ice bath to aid in dancers rehabilitation.

HASSELl australian ballet venue's design by draws from the subtlety of pointe shoes designboom


project info:


name: the australian ballet

architects: HASSELL

photography: lillie thompson


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: maria erman | designboom