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A new Jewel in the Crowne along Northbank?

With a sizeable amount of development activity expected to occur in the immediate area over the next few years, it's an appropriate time to have a look at one of Melbourne's eyesores. Collins Square, Melbourne Quarter, North Wharf (not shown in model) and the former Convention Centre site are at varying stages of development, Crowne Plaza to my thinking should be next in line.

Keep in mind these concepts are very high level and have been developed in a matter of a few hours; unfortunately I'm a bit too time poor at the moment to dedicate more time and brain cells.

In addition to the Crowne Plaza building I've also looked at the parking structure along Flinders Street within the former WTC complex. With the news that Victoria Police will likely vacate the complex in favour of new digs on Spencer Street, this would provide a perfect opportunity to reassess the complex of buildings completely. I'll leave the concept for a complete overhaul for another time.

WTC Northbank and Crowne Plaza.

These two sites were considered for the various opportunities they present. The car park's footprint could be maximised further with the addition of additional office space above, while also allowing for stronger links to the Mission to Seafarers building via the introduction of open space.

Similarly one of the great criticisms of the Crowne Plaza building is it's relationship (or lack thereof) to the Yarra River and how it forms a visual and physical barrier between the city and the river. To address this I looked at separating the existing structure into what would effectively be two separate buildings.

Ideas diagram for Crowne Plaza's rebirth

Separating the building would allow sunlight through to the promenade and reduce the visual bulk when viewed from Southbank, while opening up new views to the developments beyond. Further to this the provision of a north facing park is suggested, with retail interfaces and access to sunlight during midday.

This would most likely have to be raised public space which would terrace down to the Northbank promenade to allow for vehicular circulation and entry, and to accommodate a porte cochere and parking below.

The 'new' towers would be reskinned with a modular facade system which creates serrated edges to the tower forms maximising views to the bay and city. Tower 1 would accommodate hotel rooms and facilities with a consistent vertically static expression across up the facade, an extrusion of the floor plate the full height of the tower.

This would be capped with a green roof and rooftop hotel facilities and amenities such as infinity pool, bar, function space, etc.

Crowne Plaza diagrams

Tower 2 is more mixed use with a combination of residential apartments and hotel which employs a similar facade strategy, but with a sense of movement applied to it drawing on the movement and currents of the Yarra River. Hotel rooms would be located in the lower levels with apartments above. New circulation and services and VT cores would be built to the north.

For the expansive WTC car park, the addition of 10 new office floors would result in a structure with an overall height of 98 metres which would not provide any additional overshadowing to the Northbank promenade. Locating the core to the west where the existing car park core also resides deals with the intense western sun particularly in summer.

A greenwall treatment, envisaged as a vertical extension of the new neighbouring park between the car park and the Mission to Seafarers, would give the elevation depth and soften an otherwise sheer concrete wall.

Office tower diagrams

A "shadow gap" between the car park and new office levels helps reinforce the idea of a podium or base with tower on top. Providing a wrap of office and ground floor retail to Siddeley Street would go some way to helping activate the street beyond being just a thoroughfare for vehicular traffic passing through the WTC Complex.

These ideas for redevelopment are merely that, but my hope is they provoke some thought. With surrounding areas undergoing a development renaissance, Crowne Plaza will soon enough become an even worse blight on Northbank's evolving landscape. It a prospect worth avoiding.

To finish off I shall leave you with an aerial render of the two sites in context.

In-situ with Melbourne Quarter, 7-23 Spencer Street and Collins Square
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