Planning Application > 405 Bourke Street, Melbourne

One of Melbourne’s best located development sites has gone back to the drawing board after a landmark office proposal failed to eventuate. A revised permit application is currently under consideration by DPCD for 405 Bourke Street, located between Elizabeth and Queen Streets.

One of a handful of prior proposals for the site involved a curved 46-storey office tower designed by Fender Katsilidis which was to reach a height of 204 metres and potentially become one of Melbourne’s most architecturally significant buildings. However amended plans submitted late last year show a more modest development put forward by developer Brookfield Office Properties catering toward the leasing market's rectangular floorplate preferences.

Designed by renowned architects Woods Bagot, the new project is set to feature a 39 storey, 160.9 metre building involves 61,502sqm of office space and an upgraded retail area in the existing Foundry Building leading to an additional 3,672sqm of retail space. It will include 494 bicycle spaces, 250 car spaces as well as a new entrance to the building via an elongated Gills Alley, to be used by cyclists and pedestrians.

While the development does look quite simple at first glance, the tower itself is designed in a way that the architects say is meant to represent a “single technique of continuous laminations.” Sounds fancy but the intent is to provide a facade which breaks up the prevalent east and west elevations as well as alleviating site constraint issues, while breaking the wall effect created through the podium at street level. Following this idea of continuous laminations, the total mass of the building has been designed to appear as 70 panes of glass laminated together, opposed by clean facades on the north and south elevations.

On the extensive east and west façades, the addition of modulated laminations which have a shift of 150mm every 1.2m have been developed, allowing for further articulation and form along the large facades, creating an interesting visual effect and a textured surface along the tower which will in turn refract and reflect light depending on the changing angles of the sun throughout the day.

At podium level, the building has been designed to fit within the surrounding context. As it's considered a modern insertion within the existing streetscape, deep laminations have been designed into the podium, allowing for a unique view of the structure depending on where you stand on the street, and allowing for the entrance of the building to only be seen if the person is looking from directly in front.

This new proposal is not the first tower to seek approval for the site since partners Brookfiled and DaVinci Funds Management purchased the development site back in 2008. The site was subject to another planning application early in 2012, which subsequently lead to the amended plans currently submitted.

In addition to this, two more proposals were put forward back in 2004 and again in 2006, with the then owner of the site obtaining a permit for a 200 metre tall residential building and another permit for an office building which they later on sold with the development site.

While approval is seemingly forthcoming, time will tell whether Multiplex finally advance this scheme into the construction phase, or whether it will share a similar fate as previous proposals.

All images © Woods Bagot

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