Two projects by leading Australian architectural and interior design practice, Bates Smart won awards in their respective categories at the prestigious National Architecture Awards held recently in Melbourne.

Landmark residential development, 35 Spring Street was awarded the highly sought-after Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing: The Frederick Romberg Award. Bendigo Hospital, the health development designed jointly with Silver Thomas Hanley, was awarded the Public Architecture: Sir Zelman Cowen Award.

“We are truly honoured to receive the Australian Institute of Architects’ most prestigious awards for not just one but two of our most highly prized developments," says Bates Smart director, Kristen Whittle.

“35 Spring Street is a sculptural landmark that defines the edge of the CBD. It was designed to create a contemporary reinterpretation of Melbourne’s majestic architecture.

“Similarly, Bendigo Hospital examples our commitment to healthcare design. This is a world-class regional hospital in one of the State’s most environmentally sustainable settings. It is a significant civic building which promotes health not only on a physical level but with Bendigo’s social and cultural wellbeing in mind.”

The National Architecture Awards comprised of 12 named award winners including the two signature Bates Smart projects. An additional 20 national awards and eight national commendations were also announced at the awards from a shortlist of 69 projects drawn from a total entry pool of 975.

Full jury citations for Bates Smart’s awarded projects:

35 Spring Street by Bates Smart Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing: The Frederick Romberg Award Australian Institute of Architects

This new landmark for Melbourne is situated at the far eastern boundary of the Hoddle Grid, adjacent to Flinders Lane and opposite Treasury Gardens, and it defines an urban edge to the CBD. The 44-storey residential tower incorporates 241 luxury apartments with amenities including a twenty-five-metre indoor lap pool, a fully equipped gymnasium, a private wine cellar, lounge and dining facilities and a barbecue.

The tower’s facade reflects a layering of fabric inspired by Flinders Lane’s establishment of the fashion industry in the 1880s and patterning found in the historic masonry walls of significant political buildings that characterise Spring Street. Providing apartments with defined windows and creating protected terraces and balconies, this weave or pattern enhances the character of individual residences within a tall building.

The apartments are generously proportioned, featuring high-end crafted finishes that are rich and textural. The jury was impressed by the way the architects engaged in the complex detail planning and trade-off between car parking and apartment spaces and by the fact that they have given something back to the city with this elegant tower. Similarly impressive was the way the architects prioritised shared amenity spaces at ground level, where off-form concrete columns line the perimeter of a lobby space with a striking fireplace and a variety of seating, akin to any five-star hotel. 

Bendigo Hospital by Silver Thomas Hanley with Bates Smart Public Architecture: Sir Zelman Cowen Award Australian Institute of Architects

Bendigo Hospital is a significant investment in regional public health infrastructure in Victoria. Hospitals are generally a problematic type – they are large and functionally complex, have tended to be designed from the inside out and often fail to acknowledge the urban setting or a broader set of ideas about health and the role of the environment in our wellbeing. Bendigo Hospital departs from this convention to bring about an environment that prioritises health as a holistic process of recovery and rejuvenation.

In addition to making a humane and sophisticated holistic environment, the Bendigo Hospital is a clever urban response that respectfully and strategically inserts a very large building into the low-rise historic fabric of Bendigo. The hospital buildings operate as a complex of several facilities that use a shared language of a minimal palette of long-life materials. The building form is well articulated and manages to address both internal functional imperatives and the drivers of scale and urban setting. It is through this careful urban response that the hospital predominantly comes across as a public building, not just a building for the unwell. It is permeable and inviting with a restrained demeanour that sensitively acknowledges that the hospital can be a place of life-changing events.

The siting of the building on the long edge of the site allowed for an orderly decanting of the existing hospital buildings and will eventually also provide an enlarged landscaped forecourt that will reinforce the public expression of the building. The current landscape is already well integrated with the building and despite the complex large-format plans demanded by these facilities, the use of internal courtyards ensures that views of the outside and of the meticulous landscape are always available for the building’s users and staff.

Bendigo Hospital represents a new model of the hospital that embraces the holistic nature of health and the important role that the environment plays in the wellbeing of a whole community.