2012 Melbourne Design Awards

Key Dates

Photo Credit : John Gollings, Gollings Photography Shannon McGrath

Project Overview

Distinctive, vibrant and unmistakably modern, the 28-level Crown Metropol hotel features a unique wave-like shape, sleek podium entry, 658 spacious, light-filled guestrooms, a luxurious day spa, sky bar and terrace on Level 28, Gordon Ramsay’s maze restaurant, a comprehensive Business and Meeting facility, plus a world-class training and recruitment facility.

The sensual, fluid S-form of the hotel tower and podium creates an interior experience that is continually revealed for the guest. Intimate, inviting and slightly mysterious interiors are created within this sinuous architectural envelope. These qualities are essential to the boutique attitude of the hotel.

Project Commissioner

Crown Limited

Project Creator

Bates Smart


Roger Poole
Kristen Whittle
Jeffery Copolov
Claudia Fleuter
Grant Filipoff
Kendra Pinkus
Jan Eastwood
Fulvio Facci
Roger Chapman
Mirjana Sazunic
Anke Pfeiler
Ben Nicholas
Simone Morgan
Tammy Yu
Hilary Griffiths

Project Brief

Our brief was to create the largest hotel in Australia infused with the unique character of a boutique hotel. Bates Smart were commissioned to undertake both the architecture and Interior design for Crown Metropol. We were privileged with the opportunity to seamlessly integrate interior and architectural elements. The sensual, fluid form of the building seamlessly flows through to the refined interiors of the hotel , creating a finely crafted, world-class hotel.

The interiors have a bespoke contemporary feel with a boutique attitude. The spacious guestrooms offer accommodation that is both distinctive and vibrant across a range of room configurations. The generous bathrooms are open to the room to allow the occupant to enjoy the city/bay vistas or to close the space via woven Shoji-inspired sliding screens creating a private, introspective box. We used a combination of hand crafted elements and natural materials throughout the guestrooms to evoke tactile warmth and contemporary luxury.

“The Apartment” is a fresh interpretation of the hotel penthouse . Its distinct style has been personalised to resemble someone’s private home, not a traditional hotel room. We have created the sense of being given the keys to a friend’s apartment and finding an array of beautiful things inside.

Artwork for Metropol was a major consideration in the design process and key to the boutique attitude of the hotel. The diversity of the art selection gives the hotel a gallery-like feel, with hand selected and commissioned works. The result is a personalised, individual collection of unique pieces.

Project Innovation / Need

The design of Crown Metropol breaks free from conventional boutique hotel typologies to explore the contemporary redefinition of an urban retreat. Collaborating with Australian and international artists, rug designers and artisans, we crafted a layered, boutique ambience rarely seen in a large hotel.

The S form of the tower was key to achieving our goal. There are no long “gun barrel” corridors confronting guests, creating that awful anonymous hotel experience. Through lighting, colour and architectural detail we emphasised the building’s curves.

We challenged typical hotel spatial planning. For example we persuaded our client to sacrifice the prestige “Penthouse” space at the top of the building usually earmarked for suites. Instead we recommended a full size infinity pool in a double height space to be located on the top of the building. The light drenched double volume of the architectural space evokes the atmosphere of an exterior lounge deck where the room appears to hover in the city skyscape. Together with a generous gym and luxury spa Bates Smart have created a dramatic and sensuous destination. At the very top level, “28” is the hotel’s hip ‘guest only’ bar and lounge which morphs into a fashionable cocktail bar on weekends. With spectacular views across the city and beyond, the club is divided into intimate spaces. The moody cocktail bar has screened views over the pool below and access to the external terrace showcasing views of Melbourne skyline.

Design Challenge

Our client made a brave decision to build a hotel type that is unique in Australia – a large 658 room “boutique” hotel. Working with our client we pushed into uncharted territory to create that special small hotel feel incorporating personalised luxurious details throughout the hotel.

We took a unique approach to spatial planning and developed the designed from the “inside out”. The sinuous s-shaped form of the building was carefully segmented to maximise the number of rooms with a minimal number of variant modules. By minimising the number of variants large scale construction costs were possible. This benefit flows into hotel operations as house-keeping and maintenance schedules benefit from the limited number of variations. Additionally we developed a prototype room prior to construction. We were able to test all fitting and fixtures for performance, durability and aesthetic appeal, creating opportunity for large scale cost savings.


Sustainability was addressed in the rigorous selection of all appliance and fittings in the hotel. We ensured all appliances and products specified were checked for the for energy efficient performance. The use of careful use of water was particularly targeted. This hotel makes a dramatic break with traditional on luxury hotels by fitting the majority of rooms with showers, not bath tubs. This was a calculated risk as inclusion of a bathtub has traditionally been a defining feature of five star luxury. However the tub is one of the greatest users of water. We used clever sophisticated design to create an elegant, luxurious bathroom without the focal point bathtub. Furthermore, all plumbing fittings are water efficiency rated. The use of low energy lighting was given special attention. All lighting in the guest rooms uses only fluorescent and led lighting. Extra efforts were then addressed to ensure the lighting temperature / colouration was considered. This ensured the interiors still felt warm and inviting at night when the rooms are lit only using the fluorescent and led, which typically can feel “cold”.

This award recognises building interiors, with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes and aesthetic presentation. Consideration given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.
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