Winter is coming (it does sounds like a line taken from Games of Thrones!), but it is certainly not the time to hibernate until spring shows up. Exploring Melbourne urban environment is a continuous challenge, nor can the cold weather, rain or hail stop the city from burgeoning.

If you have not wandered at the back end of the Art Centre in Southbank, now is the time. Testing Grounds has been one of Melbourne’s best ‘pop up’ in the last past year and is extending its stay for another 12 months. A temporary space is not your ordinary traditional pop up. It occupies an empty space, be it a decaying site or future development site, until it reaches its next stage. It performs several functions in the urban environment and community life.

Testing Grounds was initiated by The Projects with the support of Arts Victoria. It lies in a weird location between Sturt Street, Fanning Street, and City Road. It is concealed behind the Australia Ballet and its only neighbours are tall residential and commercial buildings. It is definitively not the coolest or most inviting location in town and yet, this space acts as a powerful catalyst for creativity while bringing life in Southbank’s unloved and forgotten precinct.

This outdoor space features a series of shipping containers, which are fitted to suit the evolving needs of visitors and artists. As such it contains a bar, artists’ space, workshop areas and landscaping. The different elements can be assembled to create a stage, host an art exhibition or use for urban farming.

Image credit: Testing Grounds
Image credit: Testing Grounds
This temporary space is a true open space in between the raw surrounding built form. It attracts the general public, residents, students and professionals (and kids too – read more on kids friendly cities here) and invite them to experiment a space in constant evolution.

Image credit: Testing Grounds 
Image credit: Testing Grounds
Although some temporary spaces seem to be more permanent than they should, it is undeniable that they serve a purpose bigger than occupying an empty space.

Who knows what is next? Will it turn into a residential building once its mission is accomplished?

People's market, Collingwood

Image Credit: Urban Inc
Oxley Apartments (under construction) - Former People's market location

See more here: http://www.testing-grounds.com.au/

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