The Immersery. Image: Bonnie Savage

6 March 2014 — Design practice HASSELL has created a pop-up hub for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, which encourages visitors to think about how they use water.

The Immersery features a “cloud-like” structure suspended above a floating bar and restaurant on the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River.

“The design represents the three states of water as well as the water cycle, encouraging visitors to consider how we use one of Earth’s most precious resources, at the same time as enjoying the vibrant and lively atmosphere of the festival,” said HASSELL designer Brenton Beggs.

The Immersery. Image: Bonnie Savage

“Water misters, multi-level planting and a water-inspired soundscape all contribute to the sense of an urban retreat, where visitors can relax, and become truly immersed in the landscape.”

HASSELL worked with Melbourne Water to create raingardens around the site, featuring vegetables and drought-resistant plants in reclaimed 40-gallon drums.

“They show how people can harness Mother Nature’s most precious resource and capture, filter and reuse water before it re-enters the water cycle,” Mr Beggs said.

Many of the materials used in the project have connections to water infrastructure, such as plumbing pipes, and have either been reclaimed, recycled or will be returned into circulation following the Festival, which Hassell says has been done to keep material waste to a minimum.

The Immersery. Image: Bonnie Savage

HASSELL principal Mary Papaioannou said pop-up venues like The Immersery were an excellent means for testing ideas and getting the community engaged.

“They offer a chance to directly challenge established modes of public occupation and behaviour and offer the public a new perspective on a space they may already be extremely familiar with,” Ms Papaioannou said.

The Immersery is part of the 202020 Vision initiative, which aims to get 20 per cent more urban green space by 2020.

See our article Vision to green cities by 2020

The 2014 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs until 16 March.