The Canada Hotel / Hayball

© John Gollings

Architects: Hayball
Location: , Australia
Developer: Plough & Harrow C/o Mider Developments
Principal Contractor: Galvin Construction
Principal Engineer: Wallbridge & Gilbert
Specialist Subcontractor: Westkon
Photography: Rob Stent, John Gollings, Tony Miller

© Tony Miller

Function and Performance
The Canada Hotel redevelopment is a student accommodation project that provides 219 one bedroom apartments on the site of the historic Canada Hotel. A new 13 level tower stands over the reinvigorated hotel, its distinctive form and language acknowledging the historic building as ancestor.

The entry to the building is marked by a dark fissure that is seemingly carved between the new and existing structures. An undulating, blackened ceiling completes the cave-like experience and escorts entrants to the reception and lift lobby.

© Hayball

The project continues the evolution of the inner-Melbourne’s ‘Pelham Precinct’ with a robust architectural language that relates to neighbouring projects. The striking façade, comprised of stacked geometric panels that spiral up and around the building, uses its carefully cut openings to de-scale an otherwise monumental building and establishes a lively rhythm with light and shade, solid and void.

Comment on the diverse local context is found in a Liquorice Allsorts motif that is introduced externally as coloured balcony reveals and continued in the lift interior, laundry ceiling and stair nosings.

© Tony Miller

The use of concrete was integral to cost efficiency and buildability, as explained further below. With 60% of the façade comprised of ‘self-finishing’ off-form concrete, the material requirement for secondary finishes was greatly reduced.

Construction Techniques
The overlapping façade panels were fixed to the steel structure to (along with truss decks) provide permanent formwork for poured concrete floor slabs. No propping of the slab was required allowing other work to proceed concurrently.

The patterning of the panels describes their spiral installation. The architectural complexity of the façade design belies its cost efficiency and role in accelerating a conventional construction process.

© Tony Miller

Significance in relation to Public Domain
The architectural dialogue between the historic hotel and the new tower is explicit and publically engaging: insertion of the tower’s window motif into the hotel’s former openings provides a literal depiction of the hotel’s reinvention. Retail and cafe tenancies fill the ground floor, building on the vibrancy of a young and diverse resident population.

The building employs the thermal mass of concrete throughout its external envelope. Concrete panels operate in this project as a genuinely integrated finish: they provide both permanent formwork and a curtain-wall façade. They are both substrate and skin.

south elevation

The integration of precast panels with truss-deck flooring was very effective in both practical and economic terms. While concrete construction is typically assumed to be load-bearing, the panels operate here as a curtain wall. Each of over 400 panels was individually modelled using Revit software to optimise construction accuracy. Construction tolerances were exploited as a design motif and expressed as defined overlaps between neighbouring panels.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "The Canada Hotel / Hayball" 21 Jun 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • Nicholas Patten

    The Canada Hotel.

  • WPstudios

    RT @nicholaspatten The Canada Hotel.

  • Don Eglinski

    RT @NicholasPatten: The Canada Hotel.

  • 222222222222222222222222


    20 seconds was all in needed to make your façade! I like it tho x

  • R Goldschmidt

    Dieser sieht aus wie René van Zuuk Architekten Projekt (This looks like René van Zuuk Architekten)

  • Home Decor News

    The Canada Hotel / Hayball #architecture

  • æon

    the design of the facade fits well with the measures of the building

  • james

    i lived in this. (for a week)
    entrance is great, you can see in the second small image that is sort of ducks behind the original cana=da hotel facade. the facade is pretty good i guess(for melbourne). Hayball do good precast panel facades. there is another one they did about 2 blocks away- probably better than this.

    The rooms a frighteningly small. not hayball’s fault of course- more the developers, but still, it is a really unpleasent place to live.

  • billy

    i pass by this building every morning even before the construction stage. the way the building went up with each prefab parts were placed together, was like an orchestra. too fabulous.

    now i still see it every morning and evening. different time of the day gives different feeling to the building. the shadow play on the facade is also great.

    another point to note is also the illusion whereby the building looks tilted from ground level because of the facade geometry. (refer first image) something to consider?

    love the material and the atmosphere. gosh i love hayball.

    • fcbayern

      @Billy : “i love hayball” is quite a statement !!!!! guessed you work there :)

  • Tiago

    #Arquitetura e #Turismo – The Canada Hotel / Hayball #travel #architecture

  • Christopher

    Thanks to everyone who has commented and tweeted the project. We really welcome the feedback.

    The Canada Hotel redevelopment won the Best Overend Award for Residential Architecture (Multiple Housing) at the 2009 AIA Awards and the prestigious Melbourne Award in the same year for its contribution to to the urban fabric of the city.

    The facade is actually composed of an ‘L’ shaped precast concrete panel that is reversed and repeated to create that distinctive rhythm to the facade.

    The accommodation is quite small, as these are student apartments designed to be short-term. The design concept was to make the common areas as welcoming and accommodating as possible to encourage social interaction and engagement. Development of this kind on transport corridors (the Canada Hotel is located on a main tram way from the CBD to the University precinct) serves as a model for the increased urban density of Melbourne.

    Hope you enjoy and thanks again!
    Chris from Hayball.

  • o0

    Architecture: The Canada Hotel [Pictures] – (via @archdaily) #design #architecture

  • Akeo

    O curioso hotel Hayball no Canadá e sua #arquitetura

  • Ana Carla Araujo

    RT @AKEO_Brasil O curioso hotel Hayball no Canadá e sua #arquitetura

  • Jay Banks

    I really like the architecture of this hotel. Everything inside is sharp but elegant at the same time. Even the idea of making the building like it was created from big concrete blocks shaped as number 2 came up very well. The only thing I dont like are the vivid colors of the interior.

  • jeux de gestion

    Excellent inside but the outside panel looks like in soviet union