Date: Completed 2013
Juliana House in Woden Town Centre sat vacant for a number of years before GEOCON pursued the property with an idea to adaptively reuse the building as a hotel – the third in its developing chain Abode – The Apartment Hotel.
The design concept sought to reposition a drab and ageing asset with minimal but targeted changes to the external building fabric and extensive works to the ground level façade and external areas. The works included a new entry stairs/ramp arrangement, external deck, full length glazing, lighting and new landscaping around a beautiful existing magnolia tree all of which gave the building fresh rejuvenated street appeal. Other than pressure cleaning 40 years of built-up grime, the higher areas of the facade remain substantially intact. One section of the original pre-cast panel was removed over the full height of the building and replaced with curtain wall glazing, with a series of striking raked fins high above the building entry adding visual interest to the monolithic facade. In keeping with the Abode brand, the plant room roof and fire stairs have been painted black which, when combined with the distinctive Abode signage, give the building a very new look.
A major focus for the project was the building interior. The original building floor plate lent itself to an efficient arrangement of hotel rooms laid out along a central corridor, achieving 153 rooms in total over the 10 floors. There are a variety of room types, each spacious and comfortable with an attractive warm colour palette and surprisingly good views through the original windows. AMC’s interior design theme builds on the tension between old and new – the reception and cafe concept builds on the retention of a number of existing features such as the existing black marble of the lift fronts and exposed concrete ceilings with a new palette of modern materials, finishes, lighting and furnishings.
This is a highly successful and innovative example of an adaptive reuse development – a very worthwhile and timely precedent for others to follow and the ACT Government to further incentivize such development noting that it will be the first hotel to achieve a Greenstar rating in Australia and was a national finalist in the 2014 PCA Innovation and Excellence awards in the Innovation category.