North Wharf - A new urban space

Another office block in Docklands you say? Same old, same old!

Well not quite. Site developer Asset1 has in recent days been kind enough to advance to a handful of high quality renders for their recently approved development at North Wharf spanning 731-739 Flinders Street, Docklands. Consider initially the media release, excerpts of which are provided below

Asset 1 is commencing a new wave of revitalization and refurbishment for their North Bank Precinct. As Landlord of the largest expanse of Yarra River fronting property, these plans will see a gust of fresh air blown into this significant Melbourne precinct. Plans are underway to create a vibrant new cultural and trade hub across the 11.7 acres of Asset 1 domain, including the World Trade, North Wharf and other key areas of the precinct.

Working collaboratively Cox architects, master-planners and under the supervision of Cox Principal, Patrick Ness, Asset 1 will look to implement a five year vision for this dynamic new expansion. This will include a trade square, trade hub, a cultural precinct, a retail precinct and a green boulevard. The development of North Wharf will also be undertaken and this will flow onto The Jim Stynes Bridge; giving complete connectivity to the prime Yarra River real estate.

This week, Planning Minister Matthew Guy granted a panning permit for North Wharf, anchored by a new 13 story office tower, comprising 33,427 square meters of office space, at 731 – 739 Flinders Street, Docklands. The North Wharf project will also include commercial office towers, the restoration of the historic old Mission to Seafarers and the Seafarers Rest Park, while introducing, retail, cafes and an art gallery. The historic crane will remain.The $90 million development of the North Wharf is the last piece of undeveloped land and is a lynch pin between Melbourne’s CBD, Docklands and the Yarra River.

So what makes North Wharf exceptional?

The vast majority of waterfront development in Docklands to date has followed the same formula; large open promenades dividing water and built form which in theory is fine, allowing light penetration and sight lines to be maximised. The issue arises when the promenade abutts said built form, generally by way of a towers podium; the urban realm at times seems an afterthought. I'd contend not enough has been done to soften the nexus between urban space and built form which leads to a monotonous, somewhat harsh experience.

Looking at the provided North Wharf images, is seems as if the urban spaces have been incorporated first with the commercial aspect an afterthought. Don't get me wrong , the commercial tower designed by Cox Architects is of a high quality yet the spaces fronting the Yarra are above and beyond. It certainly helps that the historic Goods Shed No. 5 and the 1948 crane have been incorporated, providing points of interest and history that vast tracks of Docklands waterfront no longer posses.

Oculus Landscape Archtecture have produced a mighty result by way of incorporating liberal amounts of greenery into the promenade and park which will link the Yarra to the Mission to Seafarers building and beyond, whilst also acting as a connection point for a number of pedestrian links including the currently under construction Jim Stynes Bridge. The narrow promenade coupled with the western tree plantings within close proximity to the waterfront gives the impression of an intimate, relaxing environment heavily skewed toward a green experience; certainly not applicable to many other parts of Docklands.

Much has been done to beautify the northern banks of the Yarra in recent years with North Wharf providing the last and most impressive link in this process. The only negative aspect one could conjure is that when realised, North Wharf will further shine the spotlight on the adjoining, abysmally outdated car park fronting both Flinders Street and Siddeley Street. In weeks to come Laurence Dragomir aka Blockhead might just provide a number of novel retrofit green facade solutions for the car park - stay tuned.


All images ©, and many thanks to Asset1

Aerial perspective


Chris Peska's picture

What Asset1 have done here is quite outstanding. It creates a new connection between South Wharf and Docklands, activates an inactive area and pays respect to what was there before. Well done.

Observe. Design. Build. Live.

Back to top
loafing_oaf's picture

They appear to be planning the entire redevelopment of Fisherman's Bend simultaneously ...

Back to top
Chris Peska's picture

hehe very good observation there... the last pic in the gallery is quite interesting...

Observe. Design. Build. Live.

Back to top

Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:00
Infrastructure Victoria unveiled a new round of research into its larger programme of work dealing with managing transport demand. The authority contracted Arup and KPMG to produce the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM) and while it is new, it is considered fit for purpose in the strategic context.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.