National Institute of Circus Arts

Prahran, Melbourne, Victoria

Through the reinterpretation of the dialogue between the performer and the entertainment stage the circus arts’ contemporary message is showcased through a simple framework. The result is a facility which expresses the potentialities of innovative training and performance techniques. Over-scaled backstage doors shout “Roll Up, Roll Up”, while the contextually and theatrically inspired blue glass ribbon playfully signifies the visual tag of the street and institution, flowing and dancing across the façade of the building and the community’s subconscious identity.

The project involved the construction of new training and performance spaces as an expansion of NICA’s existing facilities. The design and briefing process extended to include a master plan for the precinct that included a performance and training space with an 800-seat capacity, movement and drama studios, a multipurpose foyer space to support public performance and exhibition, an outdoor performance/public gathering space and associated ancillary spaces. Flexible and efficient structural design was required to support numerous rigging configurations and catwalk systems to enable the facility to attract and conduct a myriad of events. Simple operational systems have been designed so operation and maintenance can occur with minimal professional oversight, maintaining accessibility to the broadest possible range of users and promoting genuine community engagement.

Green Street Elevation
Green Street Elevation
National Institute of Circus Arts
Ground Floor Plan
Ground Floor Plan

01 Foyer
02 Drama Studio
03 Toilet
04 Dance Studio
05 Store
06 Training & Performance space
07 Store
08 Riggers Store
10 Riggers Workshop
11 Production Office
12 Office
13 Seating Store
14 Stair
15 Lobby
16 Outdoor Performance Space

National Institute of Circus Arts
National Institute of Circus Arts
National Institute of Circus Arts
National Institute of Circus Arts
  • Awards
  • Technical Information
  • Cox Team

Award for Architectural Steel Design – Large Project, Australian Steel Institute VIC 2008

National Institute of Circus Art
Project Status
Completed, 2005-2007
Key Consultants
Arup, Land Design, Slattery, Philip Chun
Contractor / Builder
Mackie Pty Ltd
Gross Floor Area
John Hayball
Merran Porjazoski