Hamer Hall by ARM Architecture
Urban Design: National Commendation
Australian Institute of Architects
Hamer Hall is a magnificent project on many levels. In its urban contribution it systematically rearranges itself to restore clarity and vibrancy to this pivotal site, where Melbourne’s CBD meets its cultural heart.
This is a dramatic improvement to the public environment at the edge of the Yarra River and its interface with Princes Bridge. Previously, the public thoroughfare adjacent to and under the bridge was damp, dour and dark. It felt unsafe and the bridge itself was difficult to read. Now the nineteenth-century bridge is elegantly revealed through a new cutaway civic stair, which connects the riverside to St Kilda Road, the bridge and a new terrace over the river. The space beneath has become a lighter, brighter part of Riverbank Promenade. It is now more properly part of the public realm of the Riverbank Promenade.
At the St Kilda Road level the closed drum of Hamer Hall has been made more porous, creating new connections between the lush interior, the street and the upper-level terrace with its amazing views across the river to the city. On the river’s edge, the hermetic “castle” form of Hamer Hall is now skirted by an equally heavy but more permeable and organic form. Designed to “recall the rusticated base of the Roman ruin,” it accommodates a secondary entry to the hall, via the new circle foyer. In form and expression the new work is highly contemporary – and clearly part of the ARM oeuvre. In its materiality (off-form concrete) it is similar to, although distinct from, the original building. This similarity serves to heighten spatial, formal and temporal differences.
This newly active river edge represents a critical shift in the city, but it already feels like it has been there forever.
Read the project review by Conrad Hamann in Architecture Australia.