International Facade Community

Melbourne University tower with sculptural façade

The new Melbourne home of the Australian Institute of Architects is a 22-storey tower by architecture firm Lyons with a sculptural facade that breaks down into staircases and balconies.

Australian firm Lyons, whose past projects include a string of colourful university buildings, won a competition to design the building for the Australian Institute of Architects' Victoria chapter after proposing a building aimed at helping the institute engage with the public.

Named 41X, the tower sits at a crossroads between Exhibition Street and Flinders Lane. Its facade is covered with angular concrete fins, as a reference to the "chiselled masonry aesthetic" of Melbourne's public buildings, but they appear to be cut away to make room for elevated public spaces highlighted with bright green accents.

"The design explores the idea of joining together a public and commercial building, by connecting the city street space with Institute occupied levels," said Lyons director Adrian Stanic. "A major stair, visible from Flinders Lane, facilitates this and makes public engagement a focal point of the building."

The AIA was the client for the project and occupies five floors of the building, leaving the rest of the floors free for up to 15 commercial tenants.

Photography is by John Gollings.

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