Text description provided by the architects. This project is about centralising the City of Port Phillip’s staff in one location to maximise efficiency in delivery of services and the administration of the city. Part of the project was to retain a specific community hub within the South Melbourne Town Hall to respond to services needs in that suburb.
The St Kilda complex is required to operate in many modes from the day to day business of Council services and administration of the City to the after hours use as a Council and public meeting space for official functions as well as being available for public hire for a multiplicity of uses. Optimising the integrated new and existing buildings for energy conservation and quality environmental performance was also a key part of the design.
Approximately 400 staff are based in the St Kilda facility and 10-12 at South Melbourne Town Hall.
To achieve the required floor space at the St.Kilda site it was necessary to demolish a 1960s office wing, and in its place a new carefully integrated extension of 3 levels was designed. A new open plan arrangement is provided for all staff with supporting service spaces, meeting spaces, socialisation and amenity spaces as well as spaces to meet with public on a day to day basis.
The design of the original William Pitt town Hall building from the early 20th century, coupled with the 1990s addition by Ashton Raggatt McDougall, provided a rich background to the new project. The site is prominent, and the exterior of the design responds directly to the existing context. The design of the open space and the selection of the materials for the project was made mindful of the Library on the opposite side of Carlisle Street. Material selection is modest and robust, but the components are assembled to produce a hand crafted quality to the project without resort to expensive or exotic materials.
Peculiar to this project was what to do with an important existing art work of large dimensions, dividing the existing town hall space. The work of local artist Shiralee Saul, it is titled “Axiomatic”; it consists of a structural metal frame with glass panels featuring sandblasted phrases used by the different cultures that make up the St.Kilda community. The client was desperate to regain their town hall space as one large volume. WBa proposed that the installation should be incorporated into the new extension, become part of the arrival experience to the new complex and be on show for all the community to see. The installation was recorded, dismantled, modified to suit its external application and reassembled, cantilevered off the new façade.
The project incorporates several special environmental systems including Active Chilled Beam air conditioning units throughout the new extension and existing sections of the project, the use of daylight sensors and motion sensors to new efficient lighting fixtures, waterless urinals and rainwater reticulation for flushing in the new toilet installations. Compacted strawboard panelling is used for acoustic and noise insulation in the new roof and walls and in demountable partition systems for the new office/meeting room installations. Recycled timber from the recently reinstated St.Kilda Pier was re-used as sun shading elements to the East and north facades of the new extension.