An excitingly modern addition to the city skyline, 405 Bourke Street designed by Woods Bagot is a premium A-grade office tower development in Melbourne.
One of the city’s largest commercial buildings, the tower utilises a 16.5-metre cantilever to rise above the existing apartment complex and integrate seamlessly with its heritage façade.
Dubbed 'The Lantern' for the way its seven-storey glass lobby façade lights up at night, 405 Bourke Street also won Woods Bagot the Australian Institute of Architects Sir Osborn McCutcheon Award for Commercial Architecture for the second year in a row, for artfully overcoming numerous challenges to create Australia’s best post-COVID office building.
The judges commended Woods Bagot for "creating a perfect floorplate within an imperfect site" at 405 Bourke Street in the heart of Melbourne's CBD, developed by Brookfield Properties and constructed by Multiplex.
“The Woods Bagot design achieves a beautiful resolution to the challenges and priorities of a value-orientated commercial development brief with a precise economy of structure, energy efficient services and deftness in material craft,” the jury citation said.
They added that 405 Bourke Street “contributed to the resolution of the urban realm enlivened by a calm and amenable place for work” – crucial at a time employers are trying to attract employees back to the office.
Commenting on the site’s immense complexity at ground plane, Woods Bagot principal Simon Dick said, “It was an ambitious undertaking from the outset. The site is shoehorned between two residential buildings, an existing carpark and a historical façade.”
The striking cantilever from level 11 to level 13 of the building is integrated into the interior architecture, forming the ‘mega truss’ zone as an awe-inspiring and verdant space. According to Dick, the cantilever helped resolve the site’s complexity as it allowed them to find that generous floorplate they sought at level 14 and carry it through to every level above.
Rising more than 40 levels and some 170 metres, 405 Bourke Street provides more than 66,000 square metres of PCA A-Grade accommodation and floorplates from 2,200 square metres with panoramic views of Melbourne from the upper levels.
The development also contributes to Melbourne’s laneway tradition with the introduction of 800 square metres of retail space in Makers Lane, a new pedestrian laneway connecting Bourke Street to Little Collins Street.
Designed at a time when commercial buildings were being pushed to the edges of Melbourne city, 405 Bourke Street sits at the epicentre, fronting both Bourke Street (the ‘People’s Street’) and Little Collins Street.
“405 Bourke Street is a luminous addition to an iconic Melbourne street. Known as ‘the lantern’, its softly glowing façade visually activates the urban fabric by creating an inviting landmark that adds character and a sense of simple elegance to a busy and bustling part of the city,” the studio said.
“Utilising a single technique of continuous ‘laminations’, 405 Bourke Street resolves numerous site constraints and covenants, as well as creating visual connection between the large East and West elevations and podium street wall. The rhythm of CBD’s grid emerges in de-constructed form via multiple reflections and repetitions that refract and absorb light across the facade’s laminated edges – playing off the energy of the city.”
The core design ideas of lamination and reflection are borrowed from the sculptural work of German visual artist Gerhard Richter – whose work Woods Bagot CEO Nik Karalis saw at the Tate Modern many years ago – and led to an architectural expression of the building as an assembly of stacked glass panes.
Recognised by Australia’s highest architectural body in 2022, 405 Bourke Street is a testament to the value of commercial architecture that looks to its own city for inspiration.