We present the winner and three shortlisted schemes in the Australian Institute of Architects’ competition to redevelop its property at 41 Exhibition Street.
In late 2008 the Australian Institute of Architects conducted an Expression of Interest, which selected four architectural practices to undertake an ideas competition to deliver a suitable building for the 41 Exhibition Street site. This is to be an eighteen-level office building incorporating the Institute’s Melbourne office and its Victorian Chapter office.
In January 2009 the Institute briefed the four practices – Lyons, John Wardle Architects, DesignInc and Ashton Raggatt McDougall – and invited them to undertake an ideas competition. The competition was judged on 11 February 2009 at 41 Exhibition Street. Each of the four practices presented their schemes and answered questions posed by the jury. All entrants addressed significant challenges for the design, including sustainability, place making, contribution to the city, commercial considerations, cultural value, the image of the Institute and roofscapes.
What emerged was the opportunity for the Institute to take a civic leadership role in an urban development that would be architectural and practical and add delight to the precinct. The architectural composition would strongly relate to the Exhibition Street and Flinders Lane frontages, yet be integrated with a commercial tower.
The four architectural practices all showed a high standard of creativity and professionalism. Their designs also reflected the spirit of adventure that is possible in Melbourne because of the innovative approach of the City Council. The schemes were quite diverse, yet all were valid and exciting interpretations of the brief and urban context.
The unanimous decision of the jury was that Lyons would be selected as the winner of the design ideas competition. The jury felt that of all the schemes, that by Lyons most clearly addressed the brief with regard to design, public statement, sustainability and cost.
The Lyons scheme gives the new building a distinctive sculptural exterior. A grand stair at the corner of Exhibition Street and Flinders Lane provides a focus and access to the Institute’s offices, which also feature prominently above the intersection. Provision of ground-floor retail and upper-level offices was well resolved, with a rooftop bar and theatre giving a useful and lively conclusion to the building.
The CEO and the President will now brief the Institute’s National Council at its next meeting to consider how to proceed towards an outcome, with Lyons as the preferred architects. The President requested that the CEO, prior to the Council briefing, prepare a schedule with a preferred sequence of events and decisions, having undertaken some research into relevant aspects (including construction costs) of the Lyons scheme and possible development options.
JuryHoward Tanner, Australian Institute of Architects National President (chair); Benni Aroni, Development Advisor; David Parken, Institute CEO; Karl Fender, Victorian Chapter President; Annabelle Pegrum, Professor of Architecture, University of Canberra. The jury notes with appreciation the assistance provided to it by the Institute’s Ross Clark.
Lyons – Winner
We had two primary ideas for the project. The first was to position the building as a “public building” within the paradigm of a commercial building – with one eye on the seat of power in Spring Street and the other on community engagement. This led us to speculate on a hybrid public/commercial building, joining the “tradition” of chiselled, hewn masonry of local public buildings to the prosaic necessities of the commercial slab block. By digitally chiselling the block, the form of a monumental stair was created – this connects the Institute to the public realm, and continues as the internal circulation of the organization.
The second idea, extending the commercial paradigm, was to amplify the idea of customization – moving past a choice of carpet to a fully customized office space, including facade elements. The key aspect (for investors buying off the plans) was the flexibility to create an array of “mixed mode” spaces on the building perimeter, including balconies and ventilated meeting rooms or offices. Through strategies of this type, sustainability will be embedded into the culture of the building, not act in a merely performative way.
Ashton Raggatt McDougall – Shortlisted Scheme
More archiveSee all
Introduction to Houses 124.
Local and global recognition: An introduction to the September/October 2018 issue of Architecture Australia.
A preview of the August 2018 issue of Landscape Architecture Australia.
A preview of the May 2018 issue of Landscape Architecture Australia.