The Glasshouse and Collingwood Community Centre at Olympic Park

Melbourne is known for pushing design boundaries, especially when it comes to commercial architecture. Collingwood Football Club’s new Community Centre and Glasshouse entertainment facility are representative of this famous Melbourne design aesthetic.

With architecture from Croxon Ramsay and interiors by Hecker Guthrie, Olympic Park’s latest addition was destined for brilliance. Combine Croxon Ramsay’s understanding of geometry and shape play, with Hecker Guthrie’s masterful ability to forecast interior trends; visualising concepts before the rest of us even know they’re trendy. I was drooling with architectural bliss at the mere thought of this partnership. Last Friday I visited Melbourne’s Olympic Park precinct to see the fruits of this exciting collaboration.

I arrived onsite around 9:00 am. As trainers set-up exercises on the adjacent field, dedicated Collingwood supporters started to arrive, sussing the best vantage points. Magpie fans (and fans of good coffee) are now able to watch training sessions in comfort from The Glasshouse Cafe. Timber and glass are the heroes of this hipster décor. Large floor to ceiling double glazed windows, provide refreshing natural light into the eatery; while also offering almost uninterrupted oval views. Double glazed bi-fold doors allow the cafe to spill out to alfresco dining space; which I can see becoming very popular over summer.

The triangular feature window is hands down the architectural focal point. Croxon Ramsay have strategically played with angles; integrating sharp shapes into a façade with multiple curved lines. The division of glazing panels into smaller triangular shapes, further enhances visual effectiveness. Triangle repetition across exaggerated soffits, provides exciting juxtaposition with the building’s curvaceous glass front.

Material specification has ensured quality finish and an “oh so Melbourne aesthetic”. Double glazed aluminium frames from EDGE Architectural, glass, steel and zinc evoke sophistication and true Melbournian designer chic.

Around 10:00 am, football training commenced and I moved inside to see Hecker Guthrie’s work. Collingwood Football Club’s new digs can be best described as spacious and fresh. Meeting rooms, offices, a gymnasium and aquatic centre, fill the development. While access to some areas was off limits during my visit, I was able to see one of the project’s main offerings, The Glasshouse Function Centre. Located behind the glass wall I wrote about earlier, is a state-of-the-art reception facility. This venue will be used frequently by Collingwood Football Club, and also be available for private functions. With impressive views across the Magpie’s training oval and AAMI Park, this space will be in high demand. In addition to exciting design and panoramic views, The Big Group are official event managers and caterers for The Glasshouse, providing impressive event street cred.

Inside and out, this project is a worthwhile addition to Melbourne’s sporting and culinary culture. While not a football follower myself, there is no denying this community centre has an experiential quality and atmosphere footy fans will respond well too. What I found most impressive during my visit, was the building’s ability to shift from sporting facility and supporter hub, into hipster cafe and luxurious function centre. This flexibility and fluidity is a credit to savvy architectural design and spatial planning; and it’s what will keep the development popular for many years to come.

Project Team

Architect: Croxon Ramsay
Interior Designer: Hecker Guthrie
Builder: ADCO
Window Fabricator: Mills Glass
Window Supplier: EDGE Architectural