A Future Design Experiment


Flooding the base of Fairfield Amphitheatre with a milky lake of water, an ethereal floating structure emerges from a cloud of mist. Welcome to the atmosphere.


As part of NGV Melbourne Design Week, Fairfield Amphitheatre is being transformed into 24-hour design experiment inspired by the culture, rituals and spatial dynamics of saunas. Using a conceptual sauna as a prototype, the work aims to investigate how we can improve individual and social wellbeing through the design of shared spaces.

Over the space of 24 hours a program of sensory experiences incorporating performance, soundscapes, scented infusions, tea ceremonies, and mindfulness experiences will take place within and surrounding the sauna prototype. Experiences invite participants to be both an audience member and a research participant, with participants’ responses to the experiences forming the basis of the insights.

Saunas – a potential solution for the future of shared spaces

With a rich heritage as a destination for social gatherings in our cities, saunas were historically a place not only for wellbeing, but also for social connection, discussion, business, politics and hedonism. By deconstructing the ritualistic and social dimensions of saunas, the project aims to investigate what it is, other than heat, that makes saunas so desirable and beneficial not only for the individual, but also for the community. Through this we aim to show how such spaces could be an antidote to modern ailments such as anxiety and social isolation, due to changing social and urban conditions and the increasingly exclusive ideas of contemporary wellness.


Applying social research to urban development

The work applies a human-centred design approach to the built environment that will inform possible futures of shared spaces. Through conducting social research focused on visitors’ experiences within the space, the project examines how an atmosphere akin to that of a sauna can affect both emotional and social dynamics of a communal space.



Launch Event 

‘Welcome to the Atmosphere’

Saturday 16th March, 2019
5.00pm - 7.30pm
Fairfield Amphitheatre, Melbourne


The opening night of Atmosphere invites you into a multi-sensory culture and wellness experience of performance, sound, scent and mindfulness.

Changing atmospheric qualities will take you on a journey into a place of intimacy and connection to yourself and the community. Open yourself up to vulnerability, give in to your senses, and become a vital part of a shared experiential fusion of energy, emotion, mood and ambience.

Sensory Sessions

Sunday 17th March

Sessions commence every hour
Duration: 1 hour
Free of charge
Booking is required (10 person limit per session)

Take a multi-sensory journey into a series of immersive sessions incorporating sonic soundscapes, scented infusions, naturopathic tea ceremonies, and guided mindfulness experiences.

You are invited to enter the prototype to participate in a range of intimate conversations and wellness activities, becoming an integral part of the experiment through your engagement. Immersed within an intimate shared space of carefully composed atmospheres, you will have a chance to tune into the subtle impulses of yourself and those around you, to experience the depth and underlying qualities of the atmosphere.



A 24-hour design experiment for Melbourne Design Week.

16th-17th March, 2019

Fairfield Amphitheatre
Fairfield Park Drive, Fairfield, VIC 3078


Blurring the boundaries between personal and public space, Atmosphere is an intimate, immersive environment where the audience can both find solitude and coexist. 



Presented by: Studio RJM, Fresh Prince & Collective Futures.

Artistic Director: Rachel Jayne Mackay

Architectural Design Director: Alice Nivison

Design & Build: Fresh Prince

Creative Direction: Studio RJM

Research and Strategy: Johanna Leitch

Art Director & Stylist: Ella Murphy

Research Consultants: Mark Ayres & Caroline Sanz



Project Partners:

Studio StructureEngineering

Event Partners:

Addition StudioScent & Product Design

Chase DistilleryGin Sponsor

Mayde TeaTea Sponsor

Bodriggy BrewingSpace Milk Beer Sponsor


Atmosphere is part of Melbourne Design Week 2019, an initiative by Creative Victoria in partnership with NGV.