HASSELL: Medibank Place delivers more than an innovative commercial building – it activates and enlivens the urban landscape of Melbourne’s Docklands. The new workplace for Australia’s largest health insurer was inspired by its purpose: to create better health for members, employees and the community. Incorporating over 10,000 plants, the HASSELL design for Medibank Place blurs the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces. A sense of wellbeing and activity permeates every aspect of the site – from the generous public park at the building’s base to the green walls that envelope its façade. The development integrates seamlessly within Docklands, creating a welcoming gateway to the precinct with vital new links and greater public amenity.
The success of Medibank Place lies in its early planning and integrated design. As the landscape architect throughout the project’s development – from master plan to completion – HASSELL has been able to boost the public opinion of a precinct previously accused of being lifeless. Unprecedented consideration for the public realm interfaces of this commercial development has allowed the design team to address the functional, social and environmental challenges of the tightly constrained site; and deliver significant improvements for the wider precinct that would not otherwise be achievable. The project demonstrates an exciting shift toward creative, interdisciplinary approaches to designing great urban places that serve a multitude of uses at once.
HASSELL has been involved in the project since the development of the South East Stadium Precinct Master Plan. The Medibank Place site is a triangle of a land within this precinct, sandwiched between the Southern Cross rail station and Etihad Stadium. As many as 40,000 people use the concourse running along the site during a major event, making the easy flow of pedestrians essential. The HASSELL design opened new links from the CBD and railway station, to the stadium and Yarra River waterfront. These new connections allowed the existing concourse to be narrowed from 22 to 13m-wide, creating a livelier, more pedestrian-friendly street with cafes, shops and lobbies along both sides and weather protection from a clear canopy overhead.
Though, the full value of the master plan was revealed as the new commercial building arose. The overall vision for a more permeable ground plane ensured both the Medibank and neighbouring NAB building carefully consider how they achieve this goal. For Medibank, it influenced the creation of the park and improved stair and lift connections between Bourke Street and the concourse levels of the site. In both cases, it led to the creation of vibrant retail frontages.
Both the Medibank building and workplace incorporate an enormous number of plants. There are 2,300 inside and 520 in modular planter boxes on the façade, as well as two, 25-metre-high green walls. Within the workplace this helps relieve stress, improve internal air quality and transforms views from grey to green.
The building’s green façade was designed with specialists Fytogreen, to overcome challenges around water supply and drainage, wind mitigation, microclimate zoning, plant installation and maintenance. With 10% of the building’s exterior covered by plants, it’s a building that provides a welcome relief from the heavily concreted surrounds.
Project name: Medibank Place
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Client: Cbus Property (developer) / Medibank (anchor tenant)
Landscape Architect: HASSELL
Scale: 46,000 sqm NLA (including 26,000 sqm NLA of Medibank Workplace)
Collaborators: Façade Greening & Green Walls: Fytogreen
Project Manager: Project Planning & Management
Town Planner: JH Town Planning
Structural & Civil Engineer: Winward Structures
ESD & Services Engineer: WSP
Building Surveyor & Access Consultant: One Group
Builder & Construction Manager: Brookfield Multiplex
Landscape Contractor: Baron Forge
Photography: Peter Bennetts
Awards 2015 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (Victoria) Awards – Landscape Architecture Award for Urban Design