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Renewal gets underway

The revitalisation of Docklands’ Waterfront City Piazza has begun with the first of the Docklands Spaces businesses moving into their new temporary homes.

The first to move in were Studio Batch, a 3D printing studio and retail operation, and hamper company Bird & Plane.

The Docklands Spaces project is an initiative of Renew Australia and aims to activate the area by introducing interesting and exciting projects into what is currently an underutilised part of Docklands.

The concept involves property owners allowing their empty shops, offices and commercial spaces to be used on a short-term basis for creative projects and initiatives.

The spaces are made available on a month-to-month basis, which means owners can reclaim the property quickly when they get a commercial offer.

Landlords bear no cost, with insurance and overheads covered by not-for-profit Renew Australia, which is funded by City of Melbourne, Places Victoria and MAB Corporation.

The businesses and creative enterprises that gain access to the properties get the opportunity to experiment with their initiatives without entering into long-term leases.

Renew Australia received 80 expressions of interests before the first round of applications closed in January.

Last month Studio Batch moved into a retail space in the piazza with the aim of transforming it into a 3D printing studio, retail operation and community hub.

The group of four, Marinos Drakopoulos, Ilya Friedman, Rowan Page and Dean Ovens, met as students and have industrial design backgrounds.

The group plan to sell products created using 3D printing, including jewellery and pendant lights.

They also hope that the space will become a creative centre where people can learn more about 3D printing and collaborate on projects.

“Primarily we’ll be using the space to run our studio as well as incorporating that into a retail space selling our own design work and curating a collection of other people’s work,” Mr Drakopoulos said.

“We want to make this our studio, people can come in and see the end product as well as how it’s made,” Mr Friedman added. “There will be an opportunity to customise pieces as well.”

The group is also planning to run student workshops to encourage repeat visitation.

“If we create a space where people can come in with technical questions or for a workshop, it will create a community of people using the space,” Mr Friedman said.

According the pair, the concept of having a 3D printing studio and retail store is a first of its kind for Australia.

3D printing is a relatively new technology and according to Mr Friedman the movement is predominantly taking place in America.

“We want to bring the community and movement here,” he said.

The retail space in Docklands will allow the group to introduce this method of design and creation to Melbourne.

“A lot of stuff we’re doing is quite experimental so having the opportunity to go straight into a retail space and see what the reaction is without having to take out loans or leases is a really great opportunity,” Mr Drakopoulos said.

The other new Docklands operator, Larissa Manski of Bird & Plane, is also excited about the opportunities the Docklands Spaces project will provide.

Bird & Plane is a one-woman operation, which started as an online store late last year.

Larissa creates hampers from local Victorian produce, with a focus on fresh food.

She’s been offered a kiosk in the piazza until May, which she says will allow her to test her business as an over-the-counter enterprise.

“I hope the project will encourage people to come to Docklands. They can pick up a hamper, go for a walk and enjoy the surroundings,” Ms Manski said.

“Docklands is such a scenic location.”

There are plenty more projects just like Bird & Plane and Studio Batch waiting for space to become available in Docklands.

Renew Australia general manager Holly Walker said there was a strong shortlist of high-quality creative candidates waiting for a suitable space to be made available.

“We are currently negotiating with several property owners to finalise license agreements and gain temporary access to some of the underutilised properties around the Waterfront City Piazza,” Ms Walker said.

Docklands: It’s time for a plan

Docklands: It’s time for a plan

September 29th, 2021 - Sean Car
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