JOURNAL/ October/2014


TransGrid's Powerful New Workspace
Across Three Levels of 180 Thomas Street, Sydney

“Fluidity, movement, friction and illumination give subtle reference to the national grid”



As a national leader in the infrastructure sector, our client required no less than an aspirational workspace to promote collaboration, cohesion and increased transparency. This was a relocation project to unite previously dispersed business units into an equitable and collegiate work environment.    

Strategic briefing and image response sessions were extensive and confirmed that the space had to satisfy demand for increased workplace flexibility without losing functional efficiency. Elements of fluidity, movement and illumination referenced in the design give a subtle nod to the national grid and TransGrid’s core business. 

The reception area is flanked by reclaimed timber power poles that connect wires vertically and horizontally creating vistas through to the work areas. 

With expansive floorplates it was possible to break down the space on both vertical and horizontal perspectives, allowing business units to connect and yet be independent at the same time. An offset void and staircase across all three levels gives a backdrop of energy and movement; the void is framed by more timber battens from reclaimed timber power poles.

A naturally ventilated wintergarden is located at the northern end of the building, its double height capitalising on premium views and light. This social and informal meeting place allows the business to come together as a whole and is well used by the staff.  

The success of this project has been established in the way the staff have embraced their new workspace as well as connect with each other across the business. Silos have been removed, transparency increased and a greater sense of equality has been achieved. The project is one of a handful to have achieved a 6 Star Green Star 'As Built' rating by the Green Building Council of Australia, this represents 'World Leadership' in environmentally sustainable construction. 

180 Thomas Street, Sydney
New Office Building Resolves Complex Design Challenge

 “The Site Required a Special Response, Both to the Rich Local Historic Context and the Rapidly Development Built Environment”

Philip Vivian

Director, Bates Smart

Located on a prominent corner in the heart of Sydney’s bustling Haymarket, the 180 Thomas Street project was won through a City of Sydney Design Excellence Competition. The design achieved bonus height and FSR on the basis of design excellence.

The new commercial development and integrated workplace has responded to challenging site restrictions and a rapidly evolving urban context to deliver a worthy addition to Sydney’s fast-emerging architectural precinct of Haymarket.

The design challenge was to build on top of an existing building which had columns and a central lift core integrated into its original design restricting floorplate flexibility and reducing connectivity. Our solution was to place a series of steel transfer trusses on top of the existing structure. This allowed the floorplate to cantilever beyond the existing building, increasing the floor area and aligning with the street wall while also providing flexibility with the column grid.

A steel structure was chosen to avoid increasing the load on the existing structure. The lifts were relocated to the exterior of the building and enclosed in a vertical glass volume to express the building’s vertical movement while enlivening the Ultimo Pedestrian Network.

Bates Smart Project Director, Philip Vivian commented on the design form:

"Located diagonally across from the new Frank Gehry UTS building, the design needed a strong presence. The architectural form reinterprets the semi-industrial linear forms of historic Haymarket to create a contemporary building that respects the diverse scale and context of the area.

"The form is articulated into a series of seemingly random, stacked, horizontal volumes of varying heights. Each horizontal layer is expressed by a different solar shading system, creating a layered effect of stacked, linear boxes."

The lobby is a transparent glass volume beneath the building, between the lifts and original structure. A dramatic public artwork by Lucas Grogan on the building wall frames the lobby.

The building has achieved a 5 Star Green Star rating, incorporating passive solar shading, and chilled beam cooling.

Read more ...

555 Collins Street, Melbourne
New Tower Design to Live, Work and Play in Melbourne's CBD

 “The Sinuous Form of the Tower Draws the Vibrancy of its cbd Location up its Full Height, Accentuating its Elegant, Transforming and Vertical Nature”


Director, Bates Smart

555 Collins St, overlooking both Southbank and the Yarra River, is perfectly positioned to create a unique destination, a place where people can truly work, live and play within a mix of office space, residential apartments and hotel environment.

The 83 storey tower splits into two intersecting rectilinear forms working in a north-south direction, reflecting the well known Melbourne grid. The twinned expression of the tower reduces the building mass and accentuates the elegant, transforming and vertical nature of the building. The sinuous form also serves to reduce the wind load effect on such a tall building, as well as softening and anchoring the mass of the building.

The facade of the building features a combination of soft transitioning forms that create openings for the office, hotel and residential apartments. The proportion and size of openings vary strategically to reflect the uses within, opening to important views and registering key datums of the surrounding context. The resulting play of patterning creates an additional layer of complexity and interest. As the openings vary and create shadow, the softness and movement of the building form is accentuated.

At street level the whole corner will be animated with activity, generated by the multiple functions of the building. Escalators provide a connection to the first level where the restaurant and hotel amenities are to be located and 24 hour concierge service will be available. The movement of the escalators both activates the space and improves safety for guests and residents.

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Radisson Blu Plaza
New layer of luxury

Le grande blu

The grand Victorian Radisson Blu hotel in the centre of Sydney is to be given a makeover by Bates Smart with a balance of timeless luxury and the latest technology. 

The elegant 156-year-old building will be celebrated by enhancing the relationship between the interior and the exterior. The interior will embrace the high ceilings and original features while being firmly contemporary and welcoming for the business guest. 

Bates Smart People
Sydney Model Maker

Next Top Model

Peter Wake is Bates Smart's Sydney-based model maker. He completed degrees in both architecture and model making before working in some of the world leading international and Australian architecture practices as a full-time model maker.

Peter comments on his favourite part of the job:

"In my years as a model maker everything has changed and yet nothing at all. The advances in CNC driven laser cutting technology and 3D rapid prototyping over the years has vastly improved the scope and capability of what can be achieved in the production of a model, but personally I get the greatest enjoyment from working with timber models.

"Being able to create an object of beauty that is also a practical working model is the most satisfying project of all. It’s great to see what you’ve achieved and know that it will not only help the design develop further, but also allow the client to get a real feel for their dream."

Peter's projects can vary in length from 2 days to 2 months or longer. Below in the gallery is a selection of models made for competitions, sketch studies through to high quality presentation models.

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Leichhardt Green
Low-Rise Community

Leichhardt on Display

Leichhardt Green, a new low-rise residential development for the Greenland Group has been launched with the opening of a highly visible display suite.

Project Director Guy Lake comments:

"Underpinning our approach was a desire to create a sense of community and place, connecting with the local neighbourhood through the use of materials and the scale of the building forms.

"The apartments were designed to maximise their amenity through outlook, natural light and access to generous landscaped open space."

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Dramatic Public Art
180 Thomas Street, Sydney


"Waterfall" by Lucas Grogan has been installed in the lobby of 180 Thomas Street. Inspired by the cascading nature of the glass architecture and the tetradecagon shapes of electrical neutron particles, the installation took no less than 140,500 octagonal resin beads in five layers and a lot of skill and patience to construct.

The veils of beads are back lit allowing the light to subtly refract throughout the space. Five tonal blue shades have been used with the darkest colour at the front to give the viewer a sense of floating colour fields falling before them.

Art Consultant Virginia Wilson commented:

"It's a beautiful and subtle addition to the Bates Smart designed building by an artist who had never done a public work on this scale. Since being commissioned he has exhibited in New York and continues to create imaginative and ambitious work."

Learn more about the artist Lucas Grogan

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Kristen Whittle Interview
A Life in Architecture

“Architectural Education is a Beginning, There is no End Point to Learning in Architecture”

Kristen Whittle

Director, Bates Smart

Kristen Whittle interviewed for 'From the Ground Up: 20 Stories From a Life in Architecture'

In this video Kristen talks about what drives him and shares advice for architecture students:  

Watch the video here

"My professional career has moved forward treading between art and architecture: a conceptual understanding of architecture that goes beyond pure design.

Building things was a key juncture that modified my theoretical position and acted as a catalyst to push my understanding to another space."

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Sydney Open 2014
Presenting Inner House

The award-winning Inner House will be open to the public on a ticket basis as part of the 2014 Sydney Open program.

Bates Smart architects will be conducting ticket-only tours throughout the day on 2nd November. Purchase tickets.

2014 National Awards
Timber, Brick + Steel

Masterful Materiality

The Bates Smart studios in Sydney and Melbourne are celebrating best overall National Award wins in three separate industry categories.  

Iglu Central won with the ASI National Steel Excellence award recently, and UNSW Kensington Colleges was the Grand Prix Winner at the ThinkBrick Awards. 

Dandenong Mental Health Facility completes the trifecta with the 2014 Australian Timber Design Award.

The Australian Timber Design Awards jury found the attention to detail in the Dandenong project to be exceptional. 

Congratulations to the teams.

Dandenong Mental Health Facility - Bates Smart (in collaboration with Irwin Alsop Group)

Read more ...

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