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The next big thing on Southbank?

Following a recent article highlighting the proposed tower at 256-260 City Road, these two images have recently appeared on Carabott Holt Turnicov's website simply labelled 'City Road'. Although not willing to say much to Urban Melbourne, a picture as they say, is worth a thousand words.

Taking into account the surrounding block form and lowrise buildings, CHT's concept is located at 268-270 City Rd, or abutting the aforementioned 256-260 City Rd. With nine glazed lower levels maintaining a higher floor to floor span than the levels above, I'll make the assumption that they consist of office space. Above these sit 40 levels of apartments with both the southern and northern facades sporting an interesting, engaging tetris-like pattern achieved by the use of irregular protruding floorplates. Add two plant levels and this tower sits at roughly 160-170 metres above City Rd.

Irrespective of height, street level activation fronting City Rd seems minimal based upon the image below - individuals interact with built form most commonly at street level and the inactive street frontage suggests a poor urban outcome.

City Road tower. © CHT Architects

Pretty patterns aside, the render below shows recessed balconies and light windows running the height of the western flank. The initial thought that came to mind was a potential stoush that would eventuate if the adjoining site to the west were to be developed to the boundary, much like that which has plagued the proposed 17-23 Wills St in Melbourne's CBD. Windows and balconies along shared property boundaries can be dicey prospect.

This would be an issue for planning, but ultimately the above is merely speculation until an official planning application is lodged. Nonetheless this scheme has some unique, redeeming features should it ever come to fruition.

Varied elements in this close-up. © CHT Architects

Even if this is nothing more than a concept design, we've asked our in-house graphic guru Laurence Dragomir to render both buildings together for the sole purpose of illustrating the potential for a poor outcome - the copyright to the design of both 256-260 and 268-270 City Road remains with the respective architects. Two development sites with a common property boundary are generally expected to design precast concrete walls abutting one another, negating a number of planning concerns. In its current form before planning authorities, the centre tower below at 256-260 City Rd has a setback of 5 metres from its western boundary which faces 268-270 City Rd.

Furthermore the western flank is completely glazed meaning notionally floor to ceiling windows would face a blank concrete wall no more than 5 metres away for the entire height of the building, clearly an unacceptible outcome. The logical outcome would see planning authorities ask that 256-260 City Rd architects Hayball go back to the drawing board to avoid such an outcome by bringing the tower out to the western site boundary and implementing a precast wall.

Illustrative render - copyright of individual tower design remains with Hayball and CHT
Illustrative render - copyright of individual tower design remains with Hayball and CHT
Illustrative render - copyright of individual tower design remains with Hayball and CHT

1 comment

Dangerous Beans's picture

Thanks for the article and images, and for highlighting a problem that is becoming more prevalent as developers maximse returns by placing larger buildings on smaller sites (as they must, because that's the nature of a competitive industry).
As someone who supports the densification of inner Melbourne, it is important to me that the developments that are proposed/built lead to successful outcomes for everyone with a stake in the building(developer/purchaser/occupier/adjoining property owners/users/passersby etc). The last thing I want is for apartment living to be seen as a second class option due to poor planning leading to poor architecture, with the poor outcomes leading in turn to less demand. I want our denser Melbourne to be every bit as marvelous as the current one.
I'm not saying these sites should not be developed, nor am I saying that the scale of development is inappropriate, in this location it is not. However, if we ended up with the outcome shown above we would have pissed residents in 256-260 city road, very pissed residents in 268-270 city rd if the site to the west at 274 city rd is developed (very likely), and a pissed owner of 274 city rd who has to somehow accomodate the windows on the western wall 268-270 city rd when they inevitably want to redevelop the site.
You could say buyer beware, I don't think that is a good enough answer for this city.
Now that I have had my rant I guess I should offer a solution. To me this is a planning issue, but unfortunately I have to admit that I am no expert on planning matters, so I am going to cop out and let others discuss how we might solve an issue that is going to become more common as Melbourne changes.
Rant over :)

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