Universal Design Studio and Mather Architecture
Interior Architecture: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
Inspired by thorough research into Canberra’s mid-twentieth-century vision for the city’s retail district, the reinvention of Canberra’s Monaro Mall, originally built in 1963, involves peeling back layers of change to rediscover, celebrate and enhance one of Australia’s early state-of-the-art shopping centres. This concept is thoroughly place-specific – design decisions are embedded in the narrative of the existing building and acknowledge the various eras of renovation that have taken place during the centre’s ongoing retail use. For example, new cone-shaped ceiling vaults successfully reconcile a 1980s linear glazed roof light. Space, light, materials, internal volumes and forms all reference the narrative of the original brutalist building and strong geometry permeates the new interior. Judicious demolition has created new points of entry, engaging with pedestrian networks outside the site, while relocated stairs and escalators have introduced intuitive circulation. This acknowledges the need to apply the principles of contemporary urban design to the internally focused original building. New materials, finishes and fittings are glamorous and rich. Although these are contemporary, there is no question that they successfully reflect the spirit of the original.
For more coverage, read Eugenie Keefer Bell’s project review from Artichoke 64.