ATET’s on-water event space to open in October


The long-awaited and highly-anticipated opening of ATET’s new flexible floating event space in Docklands is upon us, with the venue set to officially open to the public on Saturday 15th October.

After countless hours of construction to transform the old barge, previously used for the restoration of the historic tall ship Alma Doepelthe structure’s new life lease in Docklands is nearing completion.

Located at North Wharf in Victoria Harbour, ATET is expected to revitalize and energize the Docklands events industry and provide another valuable space for the community following the closure of Central Pier in August 2019.

After an official launch and media event on Friday, October 14, the space will officially open to the public on October 15 with a musical event showcasing the venue’s focus on food and drink, and spectacular views from the water.

The man behind ATET’s vision, Jake Hughes, said News from the Docks that after a “difficult” but “enjoyable” building journey, the team were “really excited” to open just in time for Melbourne’s warmer months.

“We’ve already endured years of COVID and many 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 with warmer weather…it’s the perfect time to pitch.”

Docklands Chamber of Commerce (DCC) chief executive Shane Wylie said he was “so supportive of the launch of ATET” and looked forward to supporting its “game-changing” vision in Docklands.

“We first heard about the project over two years ago and have been involved ever since. We believe this is a game-changer for the port and will bring back events that have been sorely missed since Central Pier went missing,” 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 people had helped make the vision of the ATET a reality.

As the first space of its kind in Melbourne, he said there “wasn’t really a manual” for “building an event space of this size on a houseboat”, and although the project has landed its fair share of challenges, nothing had been insurmountable.

But as the project neared structural completion, Mr Hughes said behind-the-scenes efforts to bring the space to life were really starting to take shape as the venue prepared for opening.

Aiming to create both a “really fun and relaxed” environment, he said ATET guests can expect a very down-to-earth feel open to a range of uses and different interests.

“We really see it as a community space that serves many facets of life. It’s not just one thing or the other. We really want to provide space for the community as a whole,” Mr. Hughes said.

“From day one, we designed it as a flexible space. All furniture is movable and removable. There are no light fixtures across the bridge, so it’s a big open space, it’s completely enclosed, and the idea from the start is that we can activate it in so many different ways.

With the venue only permitted at 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 great emphasis on music, lots of lounge space and top quality food and drink”.

“Our head chef has just arrived from Scotland and has spent a lot of time working in Michelin star restaurants across the UK. Our room manager is an amazing bartender and we have some amazing mixologists so the food and the drinks are a big part of the experience.

But in addition to its offer of music and weekend hospitality, Mr Hughes said ATET would act as a “blank canvas” for a range of community, cultural and private events, with a strong focus on well-being during the week.

Morning sunrise yoga classes, wellness activities and mental health workshops are among the activities on offer, while Mr Hughes said the space could be donated to a range of causes at non-profit and social for functions.

Beyond music, Mr Hughes said ATET would also focus on supporting the creative industries with the inclusion of an art wall for local artists on rotation, while making 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 a bid to bring major event activations back to the precinct, consider Melbourne Fashion Week and Grand Prix pop-ups on the water.

While currently moored in a temporary location near Hangar 2, ATET will eventually relocate to the tip of the North Quay near Bolte Bridge, subject to structural assessments by Development Victoria, which recently completed upgrade work on the wharf.

To ensure it was ‘in tune with the local community’, Mr Hughes said considerable work had been done in the planning with local authorities in terms of sound modelling, safety and management events.

Now, looking ahead to its launch and the warmer months, he said the team was delighted to operate in Docklands and show the world the “beautiful” and “undervalued” waterfront of the ‘pregnant.

“Since we’ve been here we’ve realized that local Melburnians don’t seem to really engage with this part of town for whatever reason,” Mr Hughes said. “It’s so beautiful to be on the water, especially on a nice day and night and you have the sunsets over the harbor – it’s so disconcerting that we don’t embrace that area anymore. He has so much potential.”

“I think if you look at a lot of cities around the world that have ports, that’s often one of the crown jewels of the city, and we just turn our backs on it. So I think we’re really hoping that what we’re doing is something that starts to get people into the area and then realizes what’s here and starts to see more opportunities for more things occur. •

“We can certainly see in the not too distant future a lot more activations here and the area being full of life, and I think that will happen.” •

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