Barak Building

Melbourne, VIC
Photo © John Gollings
Photo © Shannon McGrath
Photo © Peter Bennetts
Photo © Peter Bennetts
Photo © Peter Bennetts
ARM Architecture

This is the distinguished face of William Barak, the last traditional ngurungaeta (elder) of the Wurundjeri-willam clan. From our tower, his image oversees Melbourne’s Swanston Street axis.


Barak (c. 1824–1903) was an artist, an influential crusader for Aboriginal social justice and an authority on Wurundjeri cultural lore. We consulted extensively with his family and the wider Wurundjeri community throughout the design process.


The image is realised with white panels bolted onto black balcony slabs. The panels (140mm thick and up to 6 m long and 2 m high) are an innovative engineered surfboard-like fibreglass composite. They stand out against the black building.


The tower’s ideal viewpoint is the Shrine of Remembrance, which marks the southern end of the Swanston Street axis. From the Shrine (2.8 km away), you can see the face clearly. As you move closer, the face fades from view and increasingly you see the effect of curved, carved balconies.


The northern and western façades are an interpretation of a topographic map. The same colours feature in the lobbies and in the eight different interior colour palettes for the apartments.


The map extends to the podium carpark at the south-western corner of the tower. Its façade has a grid of portholes, as if circles were architecturally subtracted from it. Selected holes are filled with fibreglass discs to spell “Wurundjeri I am who I am” in braille, (right).


Instead of exclusive penthouses, there is a shared space on the 31st floor for residents to entertain guests and meet neighbours. Other amenities include:

  • 530 apartments ranging from 40 m2 studios to 83 m2 two-bedroom homes

  • residents’ shared skydeck with kitchen and entertainment facilities

  • built-in entertainment cabinets, wardrobes, kitchen counters in lieu of dining tables

  • NBN in every apartment

  • lobby with retail tenancies 

  • commercial gym on site and City Baths across the road; 

  • no need for body-corporate fees to fund a gym or pool in the building end-of-trip cycling facilities with lockers, showers and bike


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Other Projects by ARM Architecture

Elizabeth Quay Masterplan
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Peninsula Link
Mornington Peninsula, VIC
Hamer Hall
Melbourne, VIC
The Face Apartments
St Kilda, VIC
Wanangkura Stadium
Port Hedland, WA
‘K’ House
Anglesea, VIC