Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre

Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre



Making public spaces
for everyone

“This is an incredibly exciting development for Melbourne which will add to our reputation as a hub for world-leading medical research.”

Nicholas Reece, Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor
Source: The Herald Sun.

The Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre (PFMCC) delivers an iconic centre for excellence dedicated to cancer treatment and research. Located in the heart of St Kilda Road in Melbourne, the major new facility provides Alfred Health with a next generation clinical and research centre. At its core, the Centre is dedicated to delivering a next generation translational research facility, incorporate the entire ‘bench to bedside and back’ cycle, and delivering the latest advances in cancer treatment with the development of the latest therapies and clinical trial offerings. 

  • Sector

    Hospitals & Healthcare

  • Key Lyons Contacts

    Hari Pliambas
    James Wilson

  • Collaborators

    Rush/Wright Associates

  • Client

    Alfred Health

  • Location

    545 St Kilda Road, Melbourne 3004

  • Traditional Land

    Located on the traditional lands of the Bunurong people

  • Size


  • Project Status

    Complete, 2024

Designing the journey to wellness

The Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre (PFMCC) is a world class facility, designed to provide a premium patient experience with a focus on the early detection and prevention of skin cancers. Our design is the outcome of close examination of patient care and treatment and moves away from traditional clinical models towards more bespoke therapy. Importantly, our approach involves conceiving the design not as a hospital but rather a centre that assists patients on their journey to recovery. Day treatment spaces are located on level 2 and are designed to provide same day treatment for oncology and haematology patients receiving chemotherapy and other therapies. Patients here are expected to be immunocompromised, be of higher acuity and spend longer times at the centre.  

Treatment chairs are designed grouped in pods to reflect the nurse-to-patient ratio. This ensures premium individual care while achieving the sense of community that is essential to returning therapy patients. Spaces are designed to be warm and familiar to support patient, staff and carer wellbeing.

A welcome addition to Alfred Health

Our design for the Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre brings a distinct identity to its location, balancing a relationship with The Alfred and St. Kilda Road; Melbourne’s first boulevard. The facade ignites a modern narrative for St Kilda Road, coaxing it out of the commercial history of the 1980s. We worked within strict height limits for the maximum envelope, creating an iconic building for St Kilda Road that doesn’t disrupt views to The Shrine of Remembrance. The design is a proud expansion of the Alfred campus but importantly has its own address and separate entry on St. Kilda Road. The arrival from St. Kilda Road leads into a heavily vegetated forecourt, designed in collaboration with Rush Wright. A diagonal path through this forecourt provides clear sightlines to the building entrance whilst creating a visual buffer between the busy St Kilda Rd and front of house spaces. Garden grotto seating is carved into the public corridor creating a ‘work while you wait’ setting for patients and carers. The northern elevation shows the way in which the facade form brings landscape into the various levels of the building; the Wellness Centre with private garden, the Education Centre looking onto the northern garden, the Clinical Wait spaces with views to the vertical garden and the Level 5 staff terrace. Landscaped green spaces feature heavily in the design and are an important vehicle for creating calm spaces for both the public and patients.

An iconic cellular veiled facade

With the Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre having a separate address to the main Alfred campus, it requires an individual identity. To achieve this, we produced a design that is pure and simple in its narrative. As a creative practice well versed in weaving complex ideas into elegant projects, our approach for the centre was to strip back and distil the idea to a pure form. This is most evidently executed in the facade. The facade is conceived as a veil-like form made up of curved wall glazing and a dynamic white frit pattern. This frit pattern has many functions; it creates the iconic exterior presence, contributes to the building’s energy efficiency, and filters light and views in and out of the building. The graphic for the frit pattern is inspired by healthy layers of skin cells. Just as cells change in proportion closer to the skin’s surface, the design changes the cells’ shape higher up the building. Although complex in its conception, the cellular pattern appears simple and elegant in its realisation. Achieving far more than an iconic presence, most importantly the facade works for the patients, effortlessly easing in density where sightlines are present.

Support through wellness

The Wellness Centre at the PFMCC provides a dedicated home for education and support services made available to patients, carers and families at any point of the patient journey – from diagnosis to treatment, survivorship and end of life. The Centre is located on the Ground Level and is accessible from the main foyer, and the threshold between the two spaces has been carefully considered to balance privacy and invitation. The separation of the Wellness Centre from other treatment and clinical areas ensures that those accessing it feel invited, protected, and able to engage fully in wellness activities.  

From the Wellness Centre, there is exclusive access to the Garden Sanctuary Landscape to the west and north. The vegetation and hard landscaping here give a visual buffer from the Arrival Forecourt and create an intimate and highly private external setting for visitors to avail of wellness activities. The Garden provides seating opportunities and provide shade through tree planting.

Related content