A destination space at the crossroads of global cultures, both past and present.

  • Insights

Imagine a site nestled within the crossroads of global cultures with the potential to match the energy of the urban landscape that surrounds it. It is brimming with potential for a vibrant, activated ground plane and a heart that beats in synchronicity with the light and shade of the days’ activities. Now take that site and reduce its frontage to an exceptionally narrow 6m, combine with a vertical volume that rises to meet its neighbouring towers, and you have the site that was the subject of the 410 Pitt Street Design Excellence Competition.

Studio.SC were recently invited to participate in the Design Excellence Competition for a new hotel at the aforementioned site. Located just south of Central CBD and, surrounded by a rich social and physical fabric, the location formed a key part of the design response.

In a site where the constraints were directly proportionate to its aspirations and potential, our team began the critical analysis of the site and its context to strike a balance between the pragmatic and the magic. In addition to the narrow frontage and tall, skinny tower, there were specific sight lines to adhere to. Boxed in by the existing buildings looking towards apartments to the rear, the project team overcame the significant challenge presented by the existing conditions to create vibrant quality public and private spaces, maximising the potential activation opportunities at the ground plane and achieving the clients’ required number of hotel key. 

A crucial element of the design process was to gain an understanding of the target audience within the context of the precinct, enabling the architecture to have local and global currency and be ‘of place’. Psychographics are a means of gaining this understanding through classifying groups based on lifestyle, behaviour & culture whilst Sociodemographic profiles, an emerging social science of psychographic segmentation, has allowed the classification of all Australian households and neighbourhoods based on census data. We looked to these sciences to identify our four Key Guest profiles and to inform our design and amenity choices.

With the four key Guest Profiles now identified, the next process involved understanding the key wants and needs of these four groups, and how this could influence the design process and the offer. Through a ‘day in the life’ exercise, we were able to extract varied activities throughout the day and night, resulting in six key opportunity statements ;The Elevated Everyday, Opportunities to Connect, Destination for the Community, Always Engaging, Always on, Always Welcome, Series of Venues and Night Time Economy.

With the social and functional requirements of the space now defined; the team shifted focus to solving the inherent complexities to provide these amenities. The challenging dimensions of the site and the desire to improve the Urban Realm led to the placement of the core on the southern boundary at the sites widest dimension. This unlocked the entire ground plane and allowed for the introduction of an internal street that linked the private and public realms.

This Public and private amenity is celebrated and expressed at the building thresholds, bookending the beginning and end of the tower form, and framed by a single arched entry. By blurring the threshold between public and private, true connections are created both literally and figuratively and gravitas is given to the Urban Realm concept through connection to the sites’ social and physical context.

A balance between pragmatic and magic

Journeying through the ground plane, all sensory cues are triggered as we are greeted by a dynamic Hotel Lobby with exaggerated proportion and scale connecting to the skyline. Enhancing this experience further and providing both a magnificent visual and a natural bio-filter purifying the air of biotoxins, is the 356m2 moss wall. The beautiful green structure removes 5,400 tons of pollutants per annum, the equivalent to 6,200 urban trees and, assists in drawing natural ventilation through the internal street deep into the site whilst simultaneously offering a purifying green lung to the city.

The drama of the ground floor lobby volume is continued within the language of the entire podium, utilising setbacks and sloping planes to capture sunlight and reveal the mood of the city.

The uplift in daylight to the ground plane was also vital to the inclusion of a vertical farm intended to provide produce, honey and herbs for the F&B offering. Not only productive, this beautifully detailed feature brings ambiance to the space and makes sustainability visible; a living artwork.

The inherent balancing that comes with a site that is both highly ambitious and tightly prescribed, requires space efficiency to be a key consideration at the centre of all design choices. This came into particular importance as the project team were challenged by achieving the desired number of hotel keys without compromising the quality of amenity.

Looking to their robust experience in hotel design, and focussing particularly on our experience designing Micro Hotels and solving these space challenges, the design achieves 183 hotel keys with room sizes ranging from 12m2 – 45m2. Everything in the room is easily accessible and customisable, with power and lighting readily available. In a compact guest room space efficiency is at its most critical, with many elements performing double-duty. Tables fold down, furniture slides in and out to provide seating when it’s required and free space when it isn’t. This adaptability of space within the compact footprint is key in providing an uncompromising guest experience: a jewel box rather than a shoebox.

The overall massing and form of the tower was inspired by the examples of Art Deco architecture present amongst the surrounding precinct. Not only does it speak to the historical language of the site and the surrounding context, but there are functional elements of this architectural style that aided the resolution of ideas key to the execution of the design intent. For example; maximising daylight. The rounding of the building corners which softened the appearance of the massing within its immediate urban context, also allowed for increased light penetration improving the perceived views and amenity from neighbouring apartments.

Continuing the Art Deco influence, the primary gridline expresses strong verticality and slenderness to the tower and podium, whilst the secondary gridline expresses the horizontal as a fine underlay driven by the datum lines of the neighbouring buildings. These two hierarchical moves are punctuated by the detail layers such as the rounding of the major building corners, so prevalent in Art Deco Architecture. Blending the existing with historical context, brick was chosen as the hero referencing the sites’ previous life as a Brick Pit allowing us to not only establish a cultural connection but to physically represent the history of the site through the expression of the tower.

Our design for 410 Pitt Street aimed to provide a truly tailored experience that collected experiences both past and present, and distilled that into one unified expressive form. Not only a work of history and culture, through the provision of a hotel, activated ground plane and internal street, F&B offerings, spa and pool, and rooftop bar, the design inserts the guest directly at the centre of this experience. An opportunity to create a destination space at the crossroads of global cultures, both past and present, informing a connected yet distinct positioning for 410 Pitt St.

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