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Addressing Elizabeth Street: Melbourne Central (part two)

It's been a long time coming (15 months in fact!) but finally here's part two of my earlier piece on addressing Melbourne Central's corner to Elizabeth Street.

The introduction of more stringent controls via Amendment C270 - the successor to Amendment C262's interim planning controls - has impacted on my earlier concept. With the new controls in place the maximum height possible falls into line with the rest of the retail core outlined in DD02.

For the corner of Elizabeth Street and La Trobe Street that means a maximum height of 40 metres or the height of the podium as initially proposed in part one.

Existing condition vs Potential 40 metre podium diagram

Despite there no longer being the ability to develop another tower of height on the site, there would still be opportunity to redevelop the corner and maximise its potential through a new podium building which would allow access to the Melbourne Central tower and through again to the Station.

A new north facing internal courtyard to La Trobe Street with trees and softscaping would provide a sunny but sheltered area for workers and visitors to sit during lunch, with new commercial office space above generating additional rental income for owners GPT and further adding value to the centre.

The internal courtyard is a slight nod to the old Melbourne Central entry at the Swanston Street end, but would also tie into the existing arcades and new bisecting arcades at street level. These arcades are visible in the axonometric below which also illustrates how few of the vast array of high-rise developments provide a podium or rooftop area, due largely to the constraints of their respective sites and poor setback from other developments.

Aerial of a redeveloped Elizabeth/La Trobe corner building for Melbourne Central

To reduce impact on station operations and to ensure an efficient and speedy construction process, the use of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) would be employed. Timber construction is lightweight compared to concrete and can be erected fairly quickly relative to the form and pour process.

The timber structure would provide a contrast to the otherwise robust and impermeable exterior of the existing shopping centre, but would also act as a bookend to the timber used on the facade of the Swanston Street/La Trobe intersection frontage.

Planter boxes could be integrated into the timber structure, and a green roof for workers is in the spirit of the CIty of Melbourne's Urban Forest Strategy. 

Looking towards the intersection of La Trobe and Elizabeth Streets

Whether or not this is the best outcome for the site is debatable, but the intent of building up the street wall and providing a stronger built form to anchor the corner is not without merit as is the potential to reorganise the circulation to and from the station and the office building.

Another site that could potentially accommodate increased commercial development and streetscape improvements is Collins Place which will be the subject of a future article.

3 comments

George D's picture

This block suffers from serious pedestrian overcrowding, even before Aurora opens. If this was to be constructed it would be worse again, without remediation of the road environment.

City of Melbourne have a very nice Walking Policy but they're not giving it much attention. A small number of private vehicles have priority over thousands of people on foot every hour.

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Rohan Storey's picture

Yeah, doesn't absolutely need greater building mass to define the corner - but what it does need is a more obvious and spacious station entry - the changes of the 2000s did the opposite, made it harder to find, with retail crowding around it; also the opposite of what's being planned for the Melbourne Metro entrances.

Lookingupatbuildings

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Laurence Dragomir's picture

^ The additional mass would support the loss of GFA for the increased entry in addition to acting as a catalyst to actually improve the corner and form a consistent street wall.

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