McLean Delmo

Photo © Tony Miller
Photo © Peter Clarke
Photo © Tony Miller
Photo © Tony Miller
Elenberg Fraser
302-320 Burwood Road, Hawthorn, Melbourne, 3122 Melbourne

Our four storey commercial building for McLean Delmo started off life as the Swamp Thing. Does that sound weird? Perhaps, but there’s a method to our madness – as usual the answer starts with a question. This Hawthorn site was once home to a creek that was converted to an enormous underground drain pipe. Our question was: how do you relocate the main Hawthorn drain and overland flow criteria through the site? Our answer was to bend the main drain pipe around the site so that the entry and exit were in the same location, and the building that you see before you takes its shape from the complex flow line of the hydraulic swept path of the drain.

The glass exterior constantly morphs and changes direction like water flowing through a pipe. No glass panels are co-planar and there are no spandrels – windows stretch from the top to bottom of the slab and have retail glazing applied – no metal breaks up the constant glass panel. The silver-green of the glass is a double glazed low-emissivity coating that is colour neutral from the interior. We protected the building from the Northern sun by bolting the typical balustrade horizontally – creating a sunshade.

McLean Delmo required an office that would help position them for recruiting staff and this building is adjacent to another of their buildings. We extended the floorplate from the new to old building and cut a void into the lobby to visually connect the tenancies. Dean Phillips created chandeliers from neon tubes to insert into the space. For a suburban office block the building had exceptional amenity – from a conference centre on the rooftop available for all building tenants to the mezzanine café with its North facing terrace – there’s no reason to work in the CBD.

From murky beginnings this elegant window roll of a building was born. McLean Delmo’s offices literally reflect the history of the site in their amorphous glass form – who knew accountants could be so fun?

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