studio505 was commissioned by ISPT to create a facade that wrapped around the existing Strand Arcade, located in the bustling centre of Melbourne’s CBD. The response to this brief explores the themes of rhythm and sequence, colour and light, and how these elements come together holistically.
Rainbow light wraps Melbourne’s central retail core in a singular gesture that explores rhythm and sequence; colour and light. Its dazzling display of colour, with a palette spanning the visible spectrum, has become a new meeting point within Melbourne’s CBD as well as redefining the role and function of the street awning ubiquitous to Melbourne’s city streets.
The Strand facade was designed to create a visual counter rhythm to the towering presence of the building above. Custom fabricated glass fins form a sequential facade that extends across Lonsdale Street, Elizabeth Street, Little Bourke Street and Drivers Lane.
Neighboured by the iconic GPO retail complex, the Myer and David Jones’ CBD flagship stores, and the Emporium retail development; the brief sought a design solution that would enliven and enrich the existing public realm while creating and establishing a recognisable identity for the site and the city.
The typical Melbourne condition sees most pathways covered by an awning; contrary to this the Strand façade has a clear glazed section of awning made of glass, pierced by the coloured fins to connect the above and below, and draw the rainbow of light onto the street surface and the pedestrians beneath. The edge is formed in folded white satin aluminum providing both cover and a visual and spatial connection to the pedestrian below.
Considering the close-up experience of the façade, and not only its appearance from a distance, has brought the human scale back to the precinct. The façade successfully creates a distinct urban character while contributing and interacting with Melbourne and its inhabitants.
The duality between object and void was tantamount as the façade can be viewed not just as a sequence of actual fins but a sequence of ‘empty’ spaces between. The colour of each fin effectively fills the empty space between each fin as light passes through it. The pure white backing wall behind the fins acts as a canvas; filled by ‘coloured shadows’ during the day, and illuminated at night by strips of white LED lights.