• Location

    219-225 Swanston Street

  • Completed

    October 2017

  • Architect

    Space OS

  • Area


  • Type

    Fitout, Heritage

  • Delivery Type

    Early Contractor Engagement

  • Duration

    5 months

  • Project Manager

    Space OS

  • Value

    $3M - $5M

Early Contractor Engagement

Continuing a decade-long relationship with Bank of China, Schiavello Construction VIC has delivered the heritage restoration and fitout of the bank’s new Swanston Street branch.

Engaged under our Early Contractor Engagement (ECE) principles two years prior to the physical construction works, our VIC team assisted the client with budget requirements, buildability and programme advice, and site selection.

Based on the client’s needs, our team assisted in determining the suitability of the site for the new location, paying particular attention to the buildability issues in relation to the proposed works. The selected site was a 1920’s heritage-listed building amidst Melbourne’s famous Chinatown.

Working within a heritage-listed building

219-225 Swanston Street has a long history of finance having started its life as the English, Scottish and Australian (ES&A) Bank in 1928, and more recently the ANZ bank.

Led by construction manager Robert Volarevic, our VIC construction team embraced the challenges of working within the historical base building.

Significant structural works had to be undertaken before commencing the fitout. The most challenging element was building the necessary infrastructure for the basement vault construction and provisioning for a new lift to connect the three tenancy levels.

The team also constructed new inter-tenancy stairs connecting the three levels, extended the mezzanine area, and restored the existing brass entry doors.

bank of china reception counter kiosk
bank of china interior heritage concrete column with decorative plaster

Heritage restrictions

In coordination with the heritage consultant, the team also created a new penetration in the heritage façade for the ATM as well as necessary modifications for DDA.

Other external works included signage and light boxes. To keep to the heritage restrictions the team were not to drill additional holes, rather utilise existing holes to secure all the bank’s signage needs.

Logistics of constructing a high-security vault

The tenancy now features high levels of security as expected of a bank. While technological integration protects against cyber attacks, the vault itself relies on physical barriers to ward off physical attacks.

A concrete reinforced brick wall surrounds the basement vault. The concrete pour required intensive logistical planning to account for the rather compact site and the restricted site access.

“When you’re working within a modest 600sqm site in the heart of the CBD with restricted access, logistics become a craft. Every detail – however minute – has to be planned perfectly, and every contingency in place,” explains Robert.

“The concrete pour alone was logistically challenging, but we also had to account for getting materials in and out of the building within a busy and restrictive environment,” he continues.

The vault came together with the installation for 5,500 safety deposit boxes.

A balance of history and 21st Century needs

The new Bank of China Swanston Street branch ensures there is enough ‘breathing space’ to appreciate the original base building.

The space is presented with restrained materiality and a neutral colour palette. The outcome reflects a perfectly measured tension between the original historical detailing and a clean, contemporary aesthetics – meeting the needs of a 21st Century bank while acknowledging the original structure’s presence.

Robert comments that heritage work is often more interesting and challenging than a standard fitout; “you need to be respectful of the base building at every stage of the construction programme. We’re stripping out and constructing within a historical site – there’s absolutely no room for error.”

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