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Building 18 Design Competition Winner Announced

12th January 2018Community

Recently, Shayher Group invited local architects and design firms to compete in conceiving a new building – Building 18 – for the revitalised Pentridge, to serve as a vital, vibrant meeting space in the forthcoming Pentridge Piazza Precinct.

The competition was free to enter, and resulted in a number of absolutely first-rate submissions from around the state. ‘We really reached out to smaller, local firms,’ says Shayher Group Design Co-ordinator Georgie Sleurink. ‘We wanted to tap into the creativity of firms that were up and coming, or that might revel in the chance to work on such a unique site. There is a lot of innovative design expression out there.’

Now, after a rigorous consideration process, Shayher Group has announced that from a field of five finalists, Collingwood’s Ola Studio have emerged with the winning design, and will be engaged to bring their artfully composed vision to fruition.

Other finalists included architecture and design studios Boardgrove, MRTN, OSK and Reduct, all of whom submitted strong responses to the brief.


As a central, open space intended to invite and embrace the community into the heart of the reborn Pentridge complex, Building 18 is to sit at the axis of the primary access paths of the site, looking onto the central landscaped area of the Piazza.

Given its proximity to B Division and the necessity to honour and elevate the existing heritage of the site, all competition submissions had to abide by certain strict criteria:

  • It needed to avoid challenging or obscuring B Division’s primary site lines, while standing on its own as a recognisable landmark and piazza centrepiece
  • It needed to be both innovative and efficient in its design, while strongly linking to its existing heritage surrounds
  • It had to be a freestanding pavilion or featured structure that could identifiably serve as a meeting place for tour groups
  • It needed to be fit for purpose as site that could house a shared retail/community/information purpose, with an integrated tenancy to attract the public while providing amenity and accessibility to all prospective visitors

From the submissions, the judging panel – including independent panel members Carolynne Baker (Heritage Consultant, Bryce Raworth Pty Ltd), Annabel Paul (Senior Consultant, 10 Consulting) and Bryce Barker (Founder, JBM Group) felt that Ola Studio had best captured the spirit evoked by the brief.


Ola’s design, reflecting the cruciform floorplan of the nearby B Division, cleverly inverts the expected relationship between materials, space and the surrounding buildings.

A transparent veil of light steel angles houses a vaulted corridor of recycled bluestone, serving as a central hall or multi-purpose gallery adjacent to which are a number of large, light-dappled spaces for areas like the proposed Library and multimedia screening room.

Environmentally sustainable elements abound, with operable louvres and glazed sliding panels offering significant cross-ventilation for the building, while the bluestone features of the central hall creates a readable – even tactile – connection to the site’s history, expressed in a new and exciting way.

“Our panel had representation from a variety of relevant fields including planning, construction, architecture and heritage consulting,” said Shayher Group spokesperson Anthony Goh. “The design Ola put forward had the potential to tick all the practical boxes, whilst being an elegant, unique architectural response that felt like it had a graceful fit with the site.”

It was, nonetheless, a close run race. “Regarding the competition as a whole, everyone should feel proud of what’s been achieved. The quality of submissions was universally excellent.”

Shayher Group is thrilled to be opening this new chapter in the Pentridge story with such strong local talent. Design like this promises to transform it into exactly the kind of inclusive, forward thinking site that opens up new experiences for the community while respectfully acknowledging what has gone before.

Congratulations Ola Studio, and to all Building 18 finalists.


As mentioned above, the competition elicited some sensational designs from some of Melbourne’s finest boutique architecture and design studios. Here is a selection of images expressing the vision and skill of the four runners-up.


Boardgrove Architects conceived a meeting point for visitors to and residents of the site, its crown like form creating a striking centre piece for the Piazza with its multi-directional layout activating all sides of its immediate context.

MRTN Architects

MRTN drew upon the circular form of the Panopticon to transform it from a symbol of separation and isolation to a vibrant place of community gathering.

OSK Architects

OSK envisioned a fluid, innovative multi-purpose construction that would create an active, flexible public space, framing the heritage context of the site without overwhelming it.


Reduct conceived an environmentally sophisticated multi-function public space that sought to emphasis the permeability of enclosed versus outdoor space.