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Grocon's CUB site takes the next step

Generally Urban Melbourne likes to go jump headlong into the details when a planning application arises, yet amongst the bevy of quality renders found in Grocon's latest submission for their CUB site rebirth is the image below. Originally placed on the forum by Fedsquared the plans make for interesting reading and the image below in particular raises more questions above anything else.

Quite literally the big boy on the block, the below render shows an indicative outline for the portion of the former CUB site that Grocon saw fit to offload to fellow developer CEL Australia earlier this year. A detailed article by Property Observer during April suggested the High-rise development will be built on a 2,927 sqm block on the southwest corner of the site, incorporating a two-storey, heritage-listed bluestone building.

CEL Australia have indicated they plan to deliver 1000 apartments over this area; the question becomes how tall will a tower or towers need to be to accomodate 1000 dwellings given they are in the early stages of delivering Tower Melbourne with 581 apartments at 220m in height? I'm guessing something substantially taller.

As for the Grocon scheme (seen with green rooftop above), looking over the planning application the question becomes why is it so diminutive. The land parcel in question allowed for a much taller tower in the vicinity of 120m in height above ground yet the application seeks approval for a 20 level tower at 60.4 m. Whilst the approved Comprehensive Development Zone allowed for nearly 80,000 m3 of built form Grocon have elected to utilise 68% of the allowable total which is neither right nor wrong, just interesting in a time where most developers seek to maximise their returns.

The other notable point taken from the above render is the unique shape of what is Building 1 or McBride Charles Ryan's (MCR) contribution to the overall redevelopment. Those who know the history of this development will recall the numerous block forms and varying designs that have surfaced since Grocon took control of the site. The wave-like residential tower (above and below) has remained staunch for some time in the variety of masterplans that have been released.

Will Grocon stick with the crazy McBride Charles Ryan design for Building 1? I hope so - everyone needs a little MCR purple in their diet!

And now down to business. Submitted by Grocon to State planning officials last month for consideration the site in question is located at 2-78 Bouverie Street, Carlton. Architecture firm Studio 505 have teamed with Grocon to produce a residential tower externally rich in colour and form. Along with the now under construction Swanston Square residential tower, 2-78 Bouverie Street will comprise stage one of the CUB site redevelopment where stage two involves realising Buildings 1/2/3 and the development of Ballarat Street with the confines of the site.

Nestled in behind the site's historic bluestone Ale Store facade, the triangular tower is bound by Bouverie Street, what will be a new passage directly behind running through to Swanston Street and a striking wintergarden roof to the site's north, elements of which are seen in the first image. Residences will commence from the first floor onwards, including a limited number of duplexes directly behind the heritage facade whilst retail and wintergardens will fill spaces within the site at ground level.

Expected within the tower's 20 levels are 218 apartments, the lion's share of which are one and two bedroom options. Limited numbers of three and four bedroom options are also available while those lucky or savvy enough to purchase on level six can expect ceiling heights of 4.3 metres - rare by today's standards.

Externally the Bouverie Street facade is dominated by hexagonal shaped fins that whilst repelling heavy solar loads over warmer months will also act as a visual capture mimicking an abstract waterfall according to the planning application. The eastern facade in close proximity to the Swanston Square tower has seen Studio 505 implement a sawtooth patterned facade which gives residents a line of sight south directly down Swanston Street, the Shrine of Remembrance and beyond.

Capped by an 'urban park' atop the tower, 2-78 Bouverie Street's aims to achieve a minimum 4 star Green Star rating. As quoted A preliminary Green Star assessment has been included to identify the progress that is being made toward achieving the sustainable design aspirations of the project. This matrix is being used by the design team to track progress of the sustainable design aspirations throughout the project. This stance is in line with Grocon's Swanston Square project and signifies an overall position from the developer to deliver on sustainability - one of Grocon's core values.

Should this project gain approval ultimately one suspects the quality of finishes will determine its true design merit. Like many that have gone before it, skimp on the finishes and the tower might just look so-so externally; deliver a tower with impeccable quality and Melbourne may just have another built form landmark to add to its already impressive arsenal.

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