Leading the way > 132-134 Ferrars St, South Melbourne

132-134 Ferrars Street South Melbourne was the first development application lodged for the Montague precinct at the Fishermans Bend urban renewal area. Although Urban Melbourne has already covered another application at 123-125 Montague, St South Melbourne, 132-134 Ferrars Street is to date the tallest application in the area under consideration by DPCD, and the application that has garnered the most media attention.

Put forward by Rothe Lowman architects on behalf of Sungard Availability Services Vic, the application is seeking approval for a 49 level, 165m tower containing two ground-floor retail spaces, a childcare facility, 381 apartments and associated car parking through the podium structure.

Rothe Lowman have cited South Melbourne's historical name Emerald Hill in the planning application as the major driver behind the design concept. In starting with a block form, the architect has worked through a process very much similar to the image below. Sawing, cutting and polishing an initial concept has resulted in Rothe Lowman delivering a prismatic tower form very much similar to a cut and polished purple emerald.

Reinforcing this notion is the use of purple/blue glass as part of the towers angular facade. Clear and dark grey glass, purple and mid grey metal cladding, exposed concrete, pressed metal and grey metal louvres round out the materials schedule for 132-134 Ferrars St.


Whilst the tower maintains a sleek form, the lower levels and street interface provide a complete contrast. Highly articulated and providing activity to both street frontages, the podium is cleverly designed to hide its primary use as a car park. Internally are two retail tenancies and a bike repair workshop totalling 209sqm, 214 car spaces with the limited two and three bedroom duplexes facing both Ferrars Street and Thistlethwaite Street. Level 6 includes a childcare centre with 648sqm of internal spaces plus 483sqm of covered play areas.

For those readers who would ask why the car park is located above ground rather than below, the planning application gives a fair indication as to future expectations. The towers podium design has included flood barriers and ramp apex's to negate envisaged future flood events on the back of a predicted rise in sea levels up to the year 2100. Essential services face Buckhurst Lane and are at the highest point of the site.

Given the site is AHD 2.4m above sea level i'll let the readers draw their own conclusions on that aspect. Regardless it's a good indicator to the likelihood of most if not all future Montague towers having their car parking areas above ground. If this is to be the norm I hope that state planning body DPCD enforce an highly innovative and uniform stance in response to above ground car parks that have the tendency in other areas of Melbourne to quash vibrancy and street level activity.

Of all images provided through the planning document, this may well be the most prophetic. 132-134 Ferrars Street appears here all on its lonesome, with the bulk of Southbank in the distance. If this planning application is to receive approval it will set the standard for Montague in terms of both height and density. Interesting times ahead!

All images above © Rothe Lowman


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