Event space on the water ATET to launch in October
The long-awaited and highly anticipated opening of Docklands’ new floating flexible events space ATET is upon us, with the venue to officially open to the public on Saturday, October 22.
Following countless construction hours to transform the former barge, previously used for the restoration of historic tall ship Alma Doepel, the structure’s new lease on life in Docklands is rapidly nearing completion.
Located at North Wharf in Victoria Harbour, ATET is expected to breathe much-needed life and energy back into Docklands’ events industry and provide another valuable space for the community following the closure of Central Pier in August 2019.
Following a formal launch and media event on Friday, October 14, the space will officially open to the public on October 15 with a music event showcasing the venue’s focus on food and beverage, and spectacular views from the water.
The man behind the ATET vision Jake Hughes told Docklands News that after a “challenging” but “enjoyable” construction journey, the team was “really excited” to be opening just in time for Melbourne’s warmer months.
“We’ve already endured years of COVID and plenty of delays, so we’re sitting in the best position we’ve been in for a long time,” Mr Hughes said. “It’s going to be exciting with this time of year coming into the warmer weather … it’s the perfect time to be launching.”
Docklands Chamber of Commerce (DCC) executive officer Shane Wylie said it was “so supportive of the launch of ATET” and looked forward to supporting its “game-changing” vision in Docklands.
“We first heard news about the project more than two years ago and have been involved supportively ever since. We think it’s a game changer for the Harbour and will bring back events which have sorely been missing since the demise of Central Pier,” Mr Wylie said.
“We can’t wait for the official launch and will continue to support ATET in any way we can.”
From engineers, naval architects, plumbers and electricians to sound and lighting technicians, venue management, design and marketing, Mr Hughes said more than 50 individuals had been part of making the ATET vision a reality.
As the first space of its kind in Melbourne, he said there “wasn’t really a textbook” for “building an events space of this size on a barge”, and while the project had thrown up its share of challenges, nothing had been insurmountable.
But as the project has drawn closer to structural completion, Mr Hughes said the behind-the-scenes efforts to bring the space to life were really starting to take shape as the venue prepared for opening.
With the aim of creating both a “really fun, relaxed” environment, he said guests to ATET could expect a very down-to-earth feel that was open to a range of different uses and interests.
“We really see it as a community space that has a use for a lot of different facets of life. It’s not just one thing or the other. We really want to provide a space for the community as a whole,” Mr Hughes said.
“From day one we’ve designed it as flexible space. All the furniture is loose and removable. There are no fixtures through the deck so it’s a big open space, it’s fully enclosable, and the idea right from the start is that we can activate it in so many different ways.”
With the venue only licensed to 1am on weekends for music events, Mr Hughes said ATET would be more of a “day club” which would channel the atmosphere of those seen in Europe with “a big focus on music, plenty of lounge space and top quality food and drink”.
“Our head chef has just flown in from Scotland who’s spent plenty of time working in Michelin starred restaurants across the UK. Our venue manager is an incredible bartender and we’ve got a couple of amazing mixologists, so food and beverage is a big part of the experience.”
But in addition to its music and hospitality offering on weekends, Mr Hughes said ATET would act as a “blank canvas” for a range of community, cultural and private events, with a strong focus on wellness during the week.
Morning sunrise yoga classes, wellness activities, and mental health workshops are among some of the activities mooted, while Mr Hughes said the space could be donated to a range of not-for-profit and social causes for functions.
Beyond music, Mr Hughes said ATET would also focus on supporting the creative industries with the inclusion of an art wall for rotating local artists, while also making the space available for regular exhibitions.
Locals can also expect movie nights and big screenings of major sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup. And in an effort to bring major event activations back to the precinct, think Melbourne Fashion Week and Grand Prix pop-ups on the water.
While currently berthed in a temporary location near Shed 2, ATET will eventually relocate right to the tip of North Wharf near the Bolte Bridge subject to structural assessments by Development Victoria, which recently completed upgrade works on the wharf.
To ensure it was “harmonious with the local community”, Mr Hughes said extensive work had been done in planning with local authorities with respect to sound modelling, security and event management.
Now looking ahead to its launch and the warmer months, he said the team was excited about operating in Docklands and showcasing the precinct’s “magnificent” and “undervalued” waterfront to the world.
“Since we’ve been down here we’ve realised that local Melburnians don’t really seem to engage with this part of the city for whatever reason “ Mr Hughes said. “It’s so beautiful being down on the water, especially on a nice day and a nice night and you get the sunsets over the harbour – it’s so baffling that we don’t embrace this area more. It has so much potential.”
“I think if you look at a lot of cities around the world that have harbours, it’s often one of the crown jewels of the city, and we just sort of turn our back on it. So, I think we’re really hopeful that what we’re doing is something that starts to bring people to the area and then realise what’s here and start to see more opportunities for more things to happen.” •
“We can definitely see in the not-too-distant future a lot more activations around here and the area being full of life, and I think it will happen.” •
For more information: atet.com.au