Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Architecture, Interior Design, Wayfinding
The Populous-designed Fortress Melbourne esports venue is the largest video gaming and entertainment complex in the southern hemisphere. Located in the Emporium retail precinct in the heart of the CBD, Fortress Melbourne is a 1000-person capacity venue featuring, 160 gaming PCs, console gaming suites, a restaurant, two bars, a merchandise shop and a 200-seat esports arena, spread across 2,700m2 and two floors.
CHALLENGE. With the world of esports evolving into a $1 billion revenue-generating industry, selecting the right venue location was key to delivering ‘Australia’s new home for gamers’. To future-proof the strategy behind Fortress Melbourne, Populous leveraged its global esports expertise to investigate and model business case scenarios on several Melbourne locations.
The space had to accommodate a 6.6m ceiling height for the fully-retractable 200-seat esports arena with a 6v6 player podium and 3m x 9m indoor screen; while being large enough for a broad offering of video gaming, LAN (Local Area Network) lounge and traditional tabletop games like Pac Man and Warhammer. Building on the entertainment-led event space, key revenue generating spaces were required for membership subscriptions, several food and beverage options and merchandise sales. The venue also required street-level retail presence to promote strong branding while attracting foot-traffic and providing safe, 24-hour access for patrons on both levels.
INNOVATION. Locating the venue within a premium retail precinct unlocked the opportunity for the design team to create a unique place for devoted esports fans and gamers through to casual gamers and the afterwork crowds.
The architectural design strategically connected the shopping mall entry right through to the basement, with a vibe similar to a traditional bar or club in New York or Melbourne.
As you enter the venue, you’re taken from the everyday into the hyper-real. The space provides a sensory experience so you can truly immerse yourself in the game. The mood is enhanced with state-of-the art AV, digital screens and LED lighting, which can be adapted to suit the specific game or event.
The interior design communicates a perception of gaming and entertainment never seen before in Australia and further advances the global gaming and esports industry.
Working in collaboration with Eleisha Gray, a former movie theme setter and an expert in stylising scenes, the Arena Bar and the Urban Tavern, on the lower level, have been designed to capture the aesthetic of a medieval tavern that is linked to RPG (Role Playing Games) and fantasy culture. The flexible use of space allows the venue to open up or close off areas for specific public or private events up to 500 patrons.
The ground floor includes a training room called The Hall for individuals or teams and Streamer Pods, designed to allow new users to test out the latest equipment without needing to buy it themselves.
IMPACT. Tapping into the significant growth in the global esports market over the past 18 months, Fortress Melbourne celebrates all forms of gaming, from the analogue to cutting edge. It includes everything from retro arcade games, all the way through to the latest LAN games, virtual reality and beyond.
Fortress Melbourne sets the benchmark in the Asia Pacific region, providing a unique experience and event space for gamers and esports devotees. Designed to feel like a home away from home, it is a space where fans can celebrate their passion for gaming and experience esports live.
With natural anticipation generated in the market, the grand opening was a success, receiving favourable interest and reviews that saw 2,500 patrons, fans and future fans visit and sign up for membership.
Fortress Melbourne has hit the mark for both client and spectator.