For the second year in a row, architecture firm HASSELL has been commissioned to design the centrepiece for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

The installation project, entitled The Immersery – Festival Kitchen, Bar and Raingarden, will be a multi-level cloud-like structure featuring a floating bar and open-air kitchen on the concourse level.

Schiavello will collaborate with HASSELL to build the centre hub, which will see the floating bar installed on a barge moored in the Yarra River while the kitchen will sit on the riverbank adjacent to Queensbridge Square.

The design of The Immersery has been inspired by the festival’s water theme. Schiavello described HASSELL’s vision as “water’s cyclical journey with the three levels of the installation each representing one of the three states of water – liquid, solid and gas.”

“The Immersery is a metaphorical representation of the water cycle, designed over three levels of the space: river, square and bridge,” explained Brenton Beggs, a landscape architect from HASSELL. “We celebrate the intriguing and ephemeral qualities of clouds, communicate the preciousness of water as a natural resource, and draw attention to opportunities for the capture and reuse of water in an effort to reduce consumption and protect the quality of our water ways.”

Cloud Like Structure

Cloud-like structure

The installation will be constructed from scaffolding and PVC pipes atop the former Sandridge Bridge railway, creating a new city skyline view. Schiavello also revealed that pipes, fittings and other materials commonly used in water infrastructure will bring an industrial and urban feel to the space.

Additionally, a green approach has been taken to the hub, which will feature a vertical plant display and “drought tolerant species appropriate to the local climate and rainfall conditions” while demonstrating to visitors how water in its many forms transforms culinary experiences.

The Immersery follows the success of HASSELL’s 2013 creation for the festival, the Urban Coffee Farm, which captured global attention. Also built by Schiavello, the Urban Coffee Farm featured approximately 120 coffee trees placed across the infamous “Red Stairs” on Melbourne’s Yarra River.

Urban Coffee Farm

Urban Coffee Farm

Described as a “coffee jungle,” the installation included shipping containers and palettes to showcase how coffee is harvested for the industry.

Both of these installations demonstrate that festivals are leaning on design expertise to create spaces that are interactive, educational and inspirational.

While entertaining tastebuds may be at the core of food and wine festivals, traditional stands that feature product and promotional personnel without being eye-catching don’t always ignite a public response.

Visitors are interested in the story behind products whether it be historical information, sustainability features or materials.

In the case of Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival, it will be HASSELL’s opportunity to transform a familiar public space into one that demands attention.

The Immersery will be open for 17 days of the festival from 28 February to 16 March 2014.