by Neometro

Wangaratta Street | MAArchitects

Architecture - by Open Journal
  • 45 Wangaratta Street | MAA | Derek Swalwell

7th July, 2021.

MAArchitects were recently honoured with a AIA 2021 Victorian Architecture Award for Wangaratta Street, a project which is also home to the studio’s team. Combining workspaces and a hospitality space on the ground floor, the building is a benchmark for city fringe commercial development in Melbourne and beyond. 


45 Wangaratta Street | MAA | Derek SwalwellWangaratta Street is a boutique office development located on Melbourne’s city fringe. Across six floor plates of variegated size, ranging from largest on the ground floor to smallest on top, the new commercial building seamlessly navigates between design, functionality, holistic workplace pursuits and community connectivity.

Wangaratta Street set a precedent for workplace practise using architecture as a tool. Schematics have been planned to allow for flexibility in tenancy sizing creating leasing opportunity and growth potential alongside considered activation and enhancement of the public realm. 

Situated on an elongated, mixed-use block in Richmond, Wangaratta Street occupies a site that balances immediate access to public transport, major arterials and complementary urban retail and commercial infrastructure with densely residential surrounds. Drawing from both contexts to design a building that integrates via a sensitivity to form and materiality ensures that this building will age gracefully and retain value well into the future.

Over 2,100m2, Wangaratta Street reflects its industrial neighbourhood while setting the tone for its continued relevance and future commercial and aesthetic appeal. Constructed primarily of concrete, the material palette continues the dialogue of its surrounds while generous glazed voids bring the outside in to actively engage with a dynamic and diverse public domain enhanced by the adjacent Stewart Street Reserve, Richmond Train Station and Swan Street’s nearby commercial precinct. 

45 Wangaratta Street | MAA | Derek Swalwell

Designed to read as a singular, robust form the building has emerged through a process of pragmatics, contextual cues, and the adaptation of the fundamental principles of design – composition, balance and geometry. The Wangaratta Street facade has been divided into three parts — a 3-storey wall which references the scale of the streets existing buildings, an offset central 3-storey section, and a recessed top level. Chamfered columns and deep reveals allow for seamless architectural opportunities such as sheltered terraces, concealed operable blinds, and the harnessing of natural light and shade which subsequently creates interior thermal efficiency.    

45 Wangaratta Street | MAA | Derek Swalwell

The external elevations at Wangaratta Street carry expressions of the overall buildings intent. Rusticated bases and striated impressions on the form concrete imbue a subtle softness onto an otherwise robust material. The result is an artisanal reference to forming concrete and a tactile quality that beautifies an otherwise nondescript pedestrian thoroughfare. The generous allowance for large operable windows, myriad terraces, communal kitchen amenity and the inclusions of a cafe space on the street level continue the promotion of connections between tenants and the general public.

Wangaratta Street addresses many of the challenges facing commercial infrastructure in urban Victoria. The building seeks to engage and connect in a world growing increasingly digital. It encourages holistic workplace practise through well considered private and communal zones and extended thresholds that maintain fresh air circulation, the invitation of natural light and an intuitively heightened atmosphere of productivity as a consequence. Above all however, these are office spaces of beauty that contribute to workplace efficiency, an enhancement of the streetscape, community engagement and tenant interaction to promote better workplaces for tomorrow. 

Development | Beams Projects

Architecture | MAArchitects

Build | Coben Building

Photography | Derek Swalwell


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