AFTRS - Foyer & Cafe

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It was a great brief. To turn the vast foyer/cafe area in AFTRS, the Australian Film Television and Radio School in Fox Studios in Sydney, into a creative space – a magnet for current students, former students and the wider film industry.  

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I spent a lot of time there observing and understanding how the foyer was used: it’s a complex space. There are lectures, evening classes, tours, meetings, events. People buying coffee, lunch, using the library. They didn’t spend time there though - it was something they crossed through. A big part of my design was creating different zones,  clusters of comfortable seating, set up to invite people to linger.

Just off the foyer is the world of backstage: studios, the loading dock, the construction and scenic art workshops. Bringing elements of backstage- studio lights, backdrops - out into the foyer made for a more exciting space. A great find was a collection of circus posters and student billboards - their wild energy and strong colours seemed to suit the current creative climate of film making and its new avenues of YouTube and online.

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Texture was another key component in the redesign. Corporate interiors are all about the smooth surfaces that have been untouched by the human hand. When the builders covered the walls with hessian the space suddenly felt warmer, earthier.  

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The space is different now. I’ve seen students jammed into booths having long, intense discussions. The people from the ballet school have been coming over for meetings. But possibly my favourite thing was hearing that the students held a spontaneous sing along around the piano one evening…

Ingrid Weir