Taller projects and better design outcomes on Southbank

The Southbank development scene is forever in a state of flux, with last week no exception. News has flowed through concerning three of postcode 3006's biggest and best high rise projects, with all three demonstrating a high level of design ability relative to their stubby neighbours.

Surrounded by a host of smaller residential towers (some of which have little to no aesthetic design merit), 258 City Road, 93-119 Kavanagh Street and Australia 108 at 70 Southbank Boulevard are set to further enhance the look of Southbank. While looks are one thing, 93-119 Kavanagh Street in particular is set to fundamentally change the feel of its surrounding street level public domain; a boost for what is currently an unappealing and underutilised area.

A brief overview events of the past week reads as follows:

258 City Road

Altus Developments' new City Road endeavour.

Altus Developments has unveiled itself as the developer behind 256-260 City Road. Moved on by Apex Vic Pty Ltd who gained approval for the skyscraper, the site is now set to host a 190 metre plus mixed use tower with a development value in the vicinity of $330 million.

12 levels of penthouses will crown the tower which was initially designed by Hayball and has since seen exterior adjustments to its appearance, resulting in a edgier design outcome. In addition Pan Pacific Hotels Group have committed to 130 serviced apartments within the project according to the developers website, with the balance set to be sold as private dwellings.

Probuild has been secured as the builder while Bella Charlton will handle project sales; identical to the team which Altus Developments put in place for their initial Melbourne high rise within Docklands.

93-119 Kavanagh Street

Kavanagh Street is set for some activation

Arguably Southbank's most impressive development in waiting, 93-119 Kavanagh Street has taken a leap toward approval. Last night the Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee sat with the knowledge that Melbourne City Council planners have recommended the six tower project for approval..

Subject to conditions sought by Melbourne City Council planners, the $1.15 billion project championed by Malaysian firm PJ Development Holdings is one step closer to replacing a long vacant block. Planning Minister Richard Wynne will have the final say regarding approval, although a green light from Melbourne City Council tends to be a very good indicator in the current environment.

93-119 Kavanagh Street's numbers are impressive: 7,000sqm of open space, 2,610 dwellings, 59,000sqm of commercial office space, 687 hotel suites, 10,090sqm of leasable retail space and 894 podium car parking spaces.

Australia 108 officially commences construction

Australia 108 is on the rise. Image courtesy genesis

Although equipment has been onsite for some time, yesterday marked the official launch of construction for the city's tallest building. The 319 metre Australia 108 will be delivered over five stages, with the final stage of the $500 plus build slated for delivery during 2020.

This is a major milestone for the southern hemisphere’s tallest building, which will go where no development has ever gone before. The construction process will be complex, which is why we are proud to be working with Brookfield Multiplex – arguably Australia’s most experienced skyscraper builders.

Koh Wee Seng, Aspial CEO

Our appointment follows a fruitful Early Contractor Involvement process with World Class Land where we were able to build a partnership during the planning phase of the project and achieve the project deliverables. We look forward to successfully constructing this landmark tallest tower in the southern hemisphere for World Class Land.

Graham Cottam, Brookfield Multiplex Regional Managing Director


It didn't seem all that long ago that Southbank received Planning Scheme Amendment C171 which cemented mandatory buildings heights in some areas, discretionary separation distances between towers and urban design provisions among other changes. At the time it was expected that the amendment would provide a more uniform tower height across Southbank.

Mercifully height variations have remained and many of the recent taller Southbank proposals are far superior in design and aesthetics to the earlier generic shorter Southbank 'boxes'. I suspect I am in the minority but a well designed tall tower should always usurp a squat, poorly designed building that adheres to a set height limit.

Elysium below is the prime example. Derided by Lord Major Robert Doyle as far too tall for its location, it is leaps and bounds ahead in terms of design ingenuity and quality. Elysium along with the three towers outlined above and projects such as Crown's Queensbridge Tower and 38 Freshwater Place maintain both height and exceedingly good design

Sometimes, just sometimes, height is not the devil it is made out to be.

Elysium is not just another Southbank box

1 comment

Adam Ford's picture

I suspect I am in the minority but a well designed tall tower should always usurp a squat, poorly designed building that adheres to a set height limit.

No, I suspect you're solidly in the MAJORITY, here at least with that statement. And it's so readily logically defensible, I'd allow it to be submitted as FACT.

City of Melbourne, after spending years worrying about what height the tops of building terminate at in Southbank have surprise, surprise completely failed to attend to the street level diversity and amenity that is actually Council's job across the entire suburb, and that is Southbank's major problem.

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