Occupying a significant site with frontages facing Collins Street, Russell Street and Flinders Lane, the refurbishment of 161 Collins Street (the T&G Building), by the international real estate advisor Pembroke, has repositioned the building as a 10-level world-class workplace and retail environment.
Originally constructed in 1928, the T&G Building occupies the corner site and is considered one of Melbourne’s most beautiful buildings. In addition, the property incorporates the Edwardian-style, Richard Allen building which is located on Flinders Lane and connects with T&G on level five.
The development has undergone several alterations over the years, with the last intervention occurring in 1991, when a postmodern extension along Collins Street incorporated a new entrance, internal atrium and office floor configuration.
Successfully navigating the amalgam of different historical refurbishments and the complex architectural legacy was a key part of the project, with the aim being to respect the past, but provide the building with a new future.
An investigation of the ground plane revealed how pedestrian and vehicular flows could be improved if the carpark entry along Flinders Lane was removed.
Designed in the 1990s, the carpark predates the explosion of Melbourne’s laneway culture and the evolution of Flinders Lane as an important cultural destination within the city.
The decision to relocate the carpark entry to Russell Street allowed for the creation of a new pedestrian entrance along Flinders Lane, but also allows for a sightline and pedestrian route from Collins Street to Federation Square, via Melbourne’s famous street art laneway, Hosier Lane.
The design creates new clarity on the ground plane, which was a complex task involving the removal of columns and existing concrete floor slabs.
A clear hierarchy of entrances along Collins Street has been established, with the main entrance reconfigured to create a clear and unobstructed entry, where a new canopy, of a proportion and scale appropriate for such a prestigious address, has been introduced. Importantly, the introduction of DDA compliant access makes the entrance more inclusive.
After resolving how the development would interact with the public realm, the design focused on reworking the uninviting central atrium space, distinguished by a green glass curtain wall and exposed lift cores.
The new atrium creates a casual tenant focused lounge, with a range of different spaces and seating enabling people to gather. The abundance of daylight and natural materials works together to create a warm space.
Prominent feature walls have been created at both ends of the atrium, via cream-coloured split face masonry blocks with irregular gaps, giving the space rhythm and texture and helping to screen the lift lobby from the newly created space and providing a more human scale to the area. Bespoke woven-rope screens evoke interest, while the abundance of greenery generates an internal oasis.
The glass curtain wall has been removed, improving the expansive 4,000 square metre office floorplates, which have been designed to adapt to future needs, providing a longer lifespan.
The addition of new end-of-trip amenity has resulted in the building attracting new high calibre tenants.