“Our clients wanted an elegant building that would include open-plan spaces, with the word ‘rectilinear’ being emphasised in the early briefing phase,” says Dick.

Recipient of the prestigious Sir Osborne McCutcheon Award for Commercial Architecture from the Australian Institute of Architects (Victorian Chapter), the high-rise tower not only reflects the clouds but also hovers over the lower levels of both the period building, which comprises apartments and the dramatic atrium, with its lantern-like façade.

The exterior of 405 Bourke Street.

The exterior of 405 Bourke Street.

As with many of Kapoor’s works – where there is a ripple effect that leads into one of his sculptural gems – the laminated cut and clear glass at 405 Bourke beckons one into the 25-metre void foyer – one of the highest in Australia. Lined with travertine and its walls indented like the façade, there is a sense of walking into a piece of sculpture.

“We could have used part of the void for additional offices but, given the aspect, enclosed with buildings either side, it wasn’t going to offer the type of outlook quality that we were trying to achieve,” says Dick.

While the lobby to 405 Bourke appears to be formed from travertine, the adjacent entrance to 395 Bourke features timber-battened walls and ceilings.

One of the main challenges for Woods Bagot was creating a direct link from Bourke Street to Little Collins Street, previously a zig zag, awkward way for people taking a short cut through the building.

“It was partially the result of car parking at the core and wasn’t pedestrian-friendly,” Dick says. “There was a level of hesitation for people to walk through the building given the poor sight lines.”

The architect has not only created a clear trajectory that connects the two streets, but also reworked the shops lining the thoroughfare, including a café.

While 405 Bourke Street has an impressive façade, the new development also clearly responds to the history of Melbourne, as well as creating a building that adds another artistic layer to the city’s fabric.

“There’s a sense of clarity and modernity but, at the same time, of reflection as to where this building sits in Melbourne’s Hoddle Grid,” Dick says.

Stephen Crafti is a specialist in contemporary design, including architecture, furniture, fashion and decorative arts.