Hitting the wall on Southbank

Having heard of the importance of street setbacks and tower separation over the previous two years as part of the Government's push for better tower design outcomes, somewhat of a built form quirk is emerging on Southbank's Coventry Street.

Should the recently submitted 31 Coventry Street gain approval, it would allow four towers to be built wall to wall, with the quartet each spanning approximately 20 levels. With no street or tower setbacks involved, the result would be a solid build form that stretches roughly 90 metres on the horizontal plane.

This seems to fly in the face of what has been drummed into all and sundry in recent years. But of course it's not a black and white matter when considering equitable development opportunities, discretionary design controls which veil the site/surrounds and existing built form precedents.

It could be argued that having this solid wall of towers is a poor design outcome, yet at the same time why should 31 Coventry Street be treated any differently than the towers which have been approved before it over recent times.

Elenberg Fraser's initial renders for 31 Coventry Street

In isolation, 31 Coventry Street is one of two apartment developments for Headland Properties which are currently at planning.

With precinct-specific design controls in a state of change, the developer has taken the opportunity to push through with the project which is the amalgamation of the Coventry Street plot and 22-24 Wells Place. The latter southern facing site did hold approval for a slim Pandolfini Architects-designed residential tower.

The amalgamation of the Wells Place and Coventry Street plots has allowed for an increased apartment yield, which totals 120. This sum is split between 40 single and 80 dual bedroom options, with premier two bed, two bath layouts facing Coventry Street.

Assisting the proposed tower is basement car parking for 94 vehicles, a ground floor showroom and rooftop amenities.

Pandolfini Architects' superseded Wells Place design and Elenberg Fraser's equivalent

Project architect Elenberg Fraser describes the design as follows:

The Wells place facade references a New York style masonry brick facade. This treatment wraps around to the Eastern and Western facades to provide privacy screening to the adjacent properties. Additionally this facade treatnent acts as an effective solar shading device.

The proposed design for the 31 Coventry sheet facade is an architectural screening element. This provides the opportunity to set the buildings glazing line back from the sites northern title boundary.

Elenberg Fraser

The remaining trio joining Elenberg Fraser's vision for Coventry Street are at different stages of delivery.

Evolve Development has seen the completion of The Guilfoyle at 39 Coventry Street come and go, with the developer also poised to begin construction on Botanic Melbourne at 25-29 Coventry Street which includes 288 apartments over 20 levels. The project has an end value of $190 million and has a targeted 2019 completion date.

Botanic Melbourne is also noteworthy in that Evolve Development control the adjoining 23 Coventry Street, thus preventing development of that site in order to preserve views and amenity from their pending tower.

Rounding out the quartet that combine to create the 'Wall of Southbank' is Coventry Haus, with Hamilton Marino Builders progressing the build that will eventually see 68 apartments within the slim 20 level tower.

31 Coventry Street in the foreground with 33 Coventry under construction


Aussie Steve's picture

I am not sure that walls are such a big issue, so long as internal amenity is address and there are good design outcomes. The result of wall-to-wall developments may require larger apartments or larger rooms with kitchens and bathrooms in the middle and habitable rooms along street frontage, or dare I say, larger lobbies or more storage and suitable sized laundry/wash rooms.

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undifferent's picture

why should 31 Coventry Street be treated any differently than the towers which have been approved before it

...because otherwise what's the point of introducing new rules?

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