Bates Smart's aim was to create a uniquely “Canberran” hotel that responds both to Griffin’s original vision and its unique position as the gateway to the Canberra Airport. The design team studied Griffin’s plans for Canberra and decided to work with his geometry of circles and axes; using this geometry to create a gateway to the new airport terminal.
To create a landmark gateway Bates Smart used a bold omnidirectional circular form that marks the terminal entry regardless of approach and is dramatic when viewed in motion from a passing vehicle. Tangential to the circle a straight edge aligns with Terminal Circuit, reinforcing the terminal’s entry axis. A second tangent radiates from the airport terminal enabling diagonal views to the terminal. A complimentary smaller circle completes the form at the apex of the shape, giving it a welcoming geometry on approach from the terminal. The geometry provides an omnidirectional form that is cohesive and holistic, without a front or back.
The focus of the hotel is a dramatic circular interior space that unites the rooms together. White circular balustrades contrast with darkened circulation spaces allowing guests to discretely access their rooms while creating a heightened drama to the interior. A constellation of random circular skylights casts dramatic beams of light to the interior.
The base of the atrium contains the social functions of the hotel, and can be used as a public room for functions. Interior elements & screen are designed referencing the circular geometry of the building. Enclosed functions on the ground floor are contained within gold clad pods.
The curvilinear form has its own unique identity within the terminal complex. Alternating wide and narrow façade modules create residential scaled ‘framed’ windows to the rooms, while externally enabling a smooth curve to be made from straight sections. The glass façade incorporates a screen of circular rings, which creates privacy for the guests without loss of view. Externally it unites the facade into a singular expression, emphasising its landmark quality, while screening the effects drapes have on the expression of the hotel.