Advertisement
Image © Lend Lease

Batman's Hill leaves much to be desired

Lend Lease have circulated an April newsletter for their forthcoming Batman's Hill development which outlines plans for the two commercial buildings that will front Melbourne's premier locale: Collins Street. Included within the newsletter are images of the dual commercial buildings that as of last week were submitted to State planning body DTPLI for assessment.

Upon first glance last week - and up to this point - little has changed in my opinion of these two proposed buildings.

Why 695 Collins Street disappoints

  • In isolation the design has little architectural flair, befitting of a suburban office park rather than a Collins Street address. The duplicated design offers a sheer wall effect with little visual permeability to what lies behind.
  • 700 Collins Street directly opposite and AXA at 750 Collins Street nearby are prime examples of simplistic, uninviting early Docklands designs which have been roundly criticised. A decade later and 695 Collins displays little design progression.
  • Lend Lease trumpet Sydney's Barangaroo as a "Once in a 200 year opportunity to create a bold new place to live, work and visit." If 695 Collins Street is a precursor to a 'bold' Batman's Hill precinct, we have a problem.
  • Street level finishes at this point are lacking style and substance. What seem to be odd-sized, composite panel-clad boxes lining Collins Street; they look cheap although in fairness are infinitely more active than the monstrosity that is 750 Collins Street.
Indicative Collins Street perspective. Image © Lend Lease

With a half deck covering Wurundjeri Way as envisaged below, poor old Bunjil, the 25 metre eaglehawk and Docklands sentinel will be relocated. Relocated between Towers C3 and C4 and for the most, lost out of view. I can't help but think the abbreviated deck over Wurundjeri Way has compressed the layout of the commercial buildings leading to maximising the available development envelope - in other words boxy designs fronting Collins Street with little if any setbacks.

The other aspect to note is that the C4 office tower that was expected to reach as high as 160 metres and now looks to be no more than 12 levels in height according to the above image. This pocket of Docklands is littered with boxy 10-15 level commercial buildings - one more to join the party!

Batman's Hill site overview. Image © Lend Lease

Not impressed with my assertion that 695 Collins Street as seen above is a hapless, ill conceived design? Ponder the following two designs.

Below left sees the Grocon/Mirvac/Hassell Studio concept for Batman's Hill. Aside from a signature high-rise that would define the precinct within Melbourne's skyline, Hassell's scheme carries far more open space by way of a larger deck over Wurundjeri Way and built form which is articulate yet uncluttered.

The other image below highlights ARM's ostentatious Collins Street frontage as part of their precinct design; unique, eye-catching and worthy of the address!

Images © Hassell Studio and ARM Architecture

In other words, both examples and their Collins Street frontage are precisely what Docklands requires and a polar opposite to what has been proposed.

By some miracle should the Lend Lease scheme shown above not be the intended design for 695 Collins Street, I'll be the first one to say the joke's on me. Otherwise the joke's on anyone expecting a quality outcome for an area that truly needs it!

2 comments

MelbourneGuy's picture

Totally agree with you re the Lend Lease proposal. Just wondering, but do you have any chance to pass these views on to Matt Guy? LL are quite prepared to go all out on their Sydney development but at the same time will only give us a third rate proposal that is nothing but a generic, nondescript filler. How disappointing!

Back to top
Laurence Dragomir's picture

I thought the initial master plan had a lot of merit to it.

The execution however is severely lacking any design nous - if C1 and C2 are proposed as depicted.

It's early days but it could be argued that Lend Lease have been awarded the site under false pretenses - promising a lot but in reality looking to deliver very little.

The reduction in height to C1 and C2 (down from 90 m) makes sense as it allows for a more pleasant public space to the south - due to improved solar access. But the supposed reduction of C4 towards the city is somewhat baffling.

Back to top
Advertisement

Development & Planning

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 00:00
City of Port Phillip will this week indicate that it has sufficient reason to object to two pending projects in Port Melbourne. 17 Rocklea Drive and 365-391 Plummer Street are both within the Wirraway Precinct of Fishermans Bend, and both projects are under the authority of the Minister for Planning.

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.

Advertisement

Transport & Design

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 12:00
When a site spans 19,280 square metres, it becomes a 'district'. That's the case according to the development team behind the Jam Factory's pending overhaul. Reporting on the project to date has focused on the close to 60,000 square metres of new commercial space that is earmarked for the site, but more importantly from a layperson's perspective is the extensive new public realm that is planned as part of the development.

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.