Sulman Medal-winning architects, Crone recently completed a striking new headquarters for the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (ANMF).
Located between the CBD and major universities, the 10-storey building at 535 Elizabeth Street is a contemporary and sophisticated addition to Melbourne’s educational precinct, designed to house the member-based organisation that represents nurses, midwives and carers and provides access to industrial, professional and legal representation, education and training facilities.
Kieran Gleeson, Crone Director & Melbourne Principal said, “Our design response focused on air and light quality and acoustic performance while retaining a visual and physical connectivity between the diverse functions of the organisation. Our aim was to reinforce engagement with the surrounding streetscape and community thereby echoing ANMF’s inclusive and nurturing ethos.”
In a nod to Melbourne’s laneway culture, Crone created an internal ‘street’ through the building to provide a pedestrian thoroughfare between Elizabeth and O’Connell Streets. The podium facade then wraps around into this internal laneway, continuing the external materiality indoors and blurring the lines between internal and external streetscapes.
Inspired by gently folded fabric, the building’s exterior features vertical fins that evoke a sense of movement and play with the undulating pattern creating a soft, gentle facade of an otherwise solid structure. Importantly, the fins help to provide solar shading and reduce glare thereby boosting the environmental performance of the building.
The interior is divided into three distinct areas – conference, education and workplace – with spaces designed to be flexible, changing from social spaces into informal teaching spaces with operable walls and divisible boardrooms. At the centre of the building is a four-storey void with a dramatic staircase providing a sculptural link from the ground up through to the education levels.
The staircase is a ribbon of light, the design inspired by the lightness and organic nature of a ribbon of gauze, which in turn inspired the perforated balustrade. At night the lit stairs appear to twist and move while casting a glow through the central void and adjacent spaces.”
Gleeson continues, “We have incorporated environmentally sustainable principles throughout the development such as orientating the building core to the north, centred within floor plates to open up natural light penetration and city views while meeting rooms are strategically located around the core returning light-filled perimeter space to users. The facade of vertical fins provides solar shading to assist in ESD performance and reduce glare while internally, the feature staircase encourages movement via stairs rather than elevators.”
On ground level, a dramatic 400-seat auditorium is highly visible to visitors as they enter the building, featuring faceted timber walls and ceiling that draws the eye towards the central retractable screen and stage while providing a high level of acoustic performance. A skylight to the rear allows daylight to permeate and gently illuminates the front of the stage, ensuring the space is vibrant and animated.
“The building was successfully completed ahead of schedule and fulfilled the extensive requirements of multiple stakeholders and user groups within the ANMF,” adds Gleeson.
Lisa Fitzpatrick, ANMF (Victorian Branch) Secretary said, “We love our fantastic new headquarters. We really enjoyed working with Kieran and his team who were sensitive to our design needs and responded with a beautiful building purpose built for staff and more than 80,000 ANMF members.”