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Orica House

Architect: Bates, Smart & McCutcheon

City of Melbourne | C17

Orica House, or ICI House as it was originally known, was one of the first freestanding, fully glazed, curtain-wall commercial skyscrapers in Australia. It was also one of the nation’s most stylish buildings, representing the most refined example of Bates Smart and McCutcheon’s efforts in the 1950s to perfect high-rise office design. The building is a landmark in the planning of the city of Melbourne as it was more than double the previous height restriction enforced in Victoria. The design was permitted under the uniform building regulations because the site coverage was examined as a percentage of the total site area. This led to plot ratio determinations for city sites and the eventual redefinition of the central Melbourne skyline. The building’s design reflected an international aesthetic preference and continued developments in modernism from the work of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and such masters as Gropius, Mies Van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. Entry to the building is now via Albert Street, however the original entrance was through the gardens off Nicholson Street. The foyer was sympathetically remodelled in 1989 by the original architects, Bates Smart, who relocated their Melbourne studio to the building in 2001.

Need to Know

  • Open: Thursday 3 & Thursday 1 January 10am-4pm

  • Photography Restricted: Yes

  • What's Open: Ground floor – lobby, courtyard, lifts and level 6 studio

  • Tour Type: C17

  • Tour Details: Tours at continuous, running for 20 minutes, in groups of 15

  • Access: Pram accessible, Fully accessible

  • Building Type: Workplace

  • Facilities: Toilets

  • Special Programming: An exhibition in the Bates Smart Gallery showcasing the history of Bates Smart and 165 years of Enduring Architecture. Located on the ground floor and available to view at the end of the tour.

  • Year Built: 1958

  • Website:

  • Transport: Stop 10: Albert St/Nicholson St on routes 35, 86 and 96


1 Nicholson St, East Melbourne 3002, VIC


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