Harbour art structure goes up in flames

Brendan Rees

A grand timber art installation on Harbour Esplanade has gone up in flames more than a decade after it opened to showcase the “natural phenomena” of the precinct’s sea, sky, and light.

Emergency services were called to the waterfront structure located near Latrobe St just before 12.30am on September 16 following a Triple-0 call.

A Fire Rescue Victoria spokesperson said firefighters arrived at the scene in minutes to find the structure “fully involved in flames”.

“Wearing breathing apparatus, crews quickly extinguished the fire, with the incident declared under control at 12.36am,” the spokesperson said.

The structure, known as the Sealight Pavilion, was a project commissioned between Monash University, Rintala Eggertsson Architects and Grimshaw Architects and supported by Development Victoria.

It is made of reclaimed timber from the Mornington Peninsula and opened in November 2011 after it was designed and constructed by second- and fourth-year Monash University architecture students.

A Development Victoria spokesperson said work was underway to assess the next steps for the charred remains of the structure, adding safety fencing had been installed around it.

Victoria Police confirmed the fire was not being treated as suspicious.

The structure has two pieces including a tower, which dissolves as it climbs to frame the sky, and a cantilever, which dematerialises as it reaches out to frame the sea – however the latter appeared not to be damaged by fire.

The recycled timber used for the Sealight Pavilion was chosen to amplify the experience of “the natural phenomena of sea, sky and light” while offering a place to meet, to “escape the elements, or simply to witness the passage of time”.

Witness Lori Boys said she saw flames engulf the structure from her balcony, which she captured on video.

“There were at least three fire trucks. A number of police cars did arrive but as it was very late there wasn’t anyone around to interview,” she said.

“After the fire was extinguished and the fire department left, one police car remained for at least half an hour just parked in front of the structure.”

Ms Boys of NewQuay said as a resident of nearly 20 years, she felt increasingly unsafe and “less likely to walk around late at night like I used to”.


“It’s very disappointing as I love living here and always felt safe in the past. I do hope that we do get a greater police presence here as we have requested this.”


Her comments come as residents have previously voiced concerns about the precinct “fast becoming a no-go zone” at night due to reports of increased violence, anti-social behaviour, and public intoxication – although Docklands News is not making any suggestion that this was linked to the fire. •


Caption: Images before (picture 4) and after (pictures 1-3) fire engulfed an art installation on Harbour Esplanade.

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