Rydges Hotel

Designed with the vision of the Southbank Corporation in mind the re-development of Rydges Hotel is marked as the one of the last links along the street spine, within the Avenues Precinct to be completed and in turn to dovetail into creating complete cohesion of the street.

The history of this precinct has unfortunately left Rydges with some challenges over the years with respect to entry, deliveries, waste control and the general way in which the buildings purpose was designed for on the various street and podium levels. The hotel has been able to operate and redesign some internal elements for the functions to flow and operate, however it has always left the external appearance and human scale at street level lacking in activity and cohesion with the spine. The redevelopment of Rydges Hotel is crucial in achieving the continuity of design excellence, creativity and vitality outlined in the Street Spine Vision.

Simply put the re-development is to comprise works to the Grey Street level that is to establish better connectivity and engagement of new retail spaces along the spine. Along with addressing the street scale verges and interaction at grey street, the re-development encompasses further works to the podium that both integrates the current workings of this level whilst at the same time creates a stronger connection both vertically in a focal point on the corner of the Glenelg and Grey streets with a proposed new lift and iconic corner and creating stronger ties with the podium green edges and proposed re-cladding of the façade.

With reference to the particular strategies that the corporation has implemented in order to deliver the vision this proposed re-development endeavours to deliver on this vision. The strategies in particular are:

• Remove busway
• All pedestrians and motor vehicle activity to occur at grade
• Create legible entry points
• Encourage access and site permeability
• Realign Grey Street and open cross links re-establish the street pattern
• Provide active street edges

The removal of the “Boulevard” has created an undesirable section of footpath along Grey Street which has lead to a somewhat physical and physiological ‘break’ in the street spine. With the construction of the new BCEC building to the North, the development of this area is imperative to the extension of spine and further connection to the South Bank Peninsular.

At Grey Street the existing back-of-house zone being that of the old busway backdrop will be re-positioned to the rear of a new double height retail component and arcade footpath. The retail zone will wrap around to the north of the building (under a new function space on Podium level) to engage the laneway thus reducing the physical link from Rydges to the new BCEC. Currently the space between the new BCEC building and Rydges is truly a back of house zone that is not pleasant to passers by which has paved the way for exploration into its use. With careful reviewing of current loading and unloading operations the new retail insertion can add much life to this laneway that is intended to be an engaging space that is both pleasant to pass and experience as part of the connectivity of the two new buildings.

The new retail arcade evokes elements of the Queensland vernacular (undercroft space) and this will be enhanced with Landscape elements such as a green ceiling, low vegetation and screening to the arches which will help soften the space and reduce the volume to a human scale. The retail tenancies open fully to the street blurring the boundaries between inside and outside which in turn will provide continuous activity to this edge. Between the new retail and existing CBD café/bar there’s a potential for a temporary art or performance space which will add day and night activity along with a welcomed break along the current lengthy journey. It is envisaged that this zone will also assist in providing a legible entry point to South Bank along with providing greater casual surveillance opportunities and sightlines along this section of street.

Further CPTED principals intrinsically addressed in this proposal along the streets edge include:

• eliminate concealment points and possible entrapment locations by:
• Incorporating appropriate and adequate lighting at all times of day and night to provide consistent levels of lighting.
• Closing off the area to the rear of the ramp/tank
• Providing Gate to loading dock proper, BCEC service area and fire stairs
• Using the laneway as an extension of retail
• WCs provided will have limited key access and will be closed when retail not in operation.
• Bring people out to the street at podium level – creates casual surveillance for street in general.

The pedestrian linkage along the Rydges site will encourage links to adjacent uses which in turn creates economic benefits to the greater South Bank community. The development will create diversity (in the retail) and liveliness (through the restaurant and Bars) contributing to this section of Grey Street.

On the podium level the new function rooms extend over the loading dock (including ramp/tank) which creates an element that suggests a dialog between the protruding elements of the BCEC and Rydges. The laneway created under this space will in turn serve both buildings and the retail also providing a point of difference/interest along the spine.

In summary the proposed re-development not only adds a new lease of life to the existing fabric of the building, improved amenity to its users and increased functionality, it encapsulates the vision of the corporation and strengthens the street spine that is to lead into the new area of development at the arts and cultural end of Grey Street.