55 Southbank Boulevard

This building in Melbourne, Australia, is one of the world’s largest timber adaptive re-use projects. The original six-storey concrete building was designed to take an additional five levels of concrete-framed structure. Architects Bates Smart opted instead to design 10 additional levels using Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) which is 20% the weight of concrete.

According to the architects approximately 5,300 tonnes of CLT was used in the construction of the building, which will offset approximately 4,200 tonnes of C02 from the atmosphere. The timber was sourced from suppliers with Forest Stewardship Council certification. “The new CLT levels amplify the curved architecture of the existing building but provide a more contemporary articulation. Rather than simply echoing the spandrel banding of the prevailing building, the new addition responds with a series of large and small recesses which complements the original but delivers a more elegant and dynamic façade expression,” Bates Smart says.

Inhabit was engaged by Hume Partners Property to provide façade consulting on the project which was completed in 2020. The additional floors now house 220 room-serviced apartments run by Adina Hotels.

Gemma Ambrosio“This was a unique and interesting project which involved adding storeys atop of an existing and occupied office building. We worked closely with the client, design team and builder throughout the design and construction phases to achieve the design intent: a contemporary, elegant and dynamic horizontal expression which was complementary and harmonious with the existing façade, whilst integrating the performance requirements and adopting detailing which utilised the benefits of having a CLT structure.”

Gemma Ambrosio, Associate

The façade is comprised of a glazed curtain wall with alternating glazed and curved aluminium slab edges (spandrels) of varying heights. There is double curved aluminium cladding within the curtain wall and as the internal finish to the balustrade panels at the large recessed balcony. The lobby has a double height glass fin façade.

The Wurundjeri people people of the Kulin Nation are the Traditional Custodians of the Country where this project stands.

  • Scope
  • Location
  • Client
  • Architect