As some readers would know, a revised planning application was recently submitted for the old Queensbridge Hotel site at 1-23 Queensbridge Street, Southbank. Joint partners Schiavello Group and PDG Corporation intend to expand upon already approved plans for their previous Queensbridge Tower project.
Originally proposing the demolition of two buildings at 1-7 and 9-15 Queensbridge Street and the erection of a slim 276m residential tower, the developers have now decided to demolish a third site at 17-23 Queensbridge Street, which will be merged into the development allowing for much larger floor-plates than its predecessor.
While the height remains unchanged, the new tower will now be mixed use in nature. An initial 10 level podium will be followed by 17 levels of hotel accommodation, with the balance consisting of high-end apartments and residential facilities interspersed with five plant levels, for a total floor area of 138,859sqm. Taking inspiration from their earlier proposal and surrounding buildings, architects Bates Smart have evolved the elegant design to now show a bundle of three linked asymmetrical cylindrical towers creating a structure that, with the use of soft undulating forms and platinum/silver glass, is sure to become an iconic tower for Melbourne's Southbank precinct.
The make-up of the tower will see a single level of underground car parking (owing to unfavourable underground conditions), along with 10 levels of above ground car parking catering for 630 car spaces and 186 bicycle bays. A wrap of apartments over the podium and hotel recreational facilities have been included to activate the Queensbridge Street frontage. Directly above the podium will sit 408 hotel rooms, varying in size between 41sqm and 60sqm.
Upper levels contain 604 apartments, boasting 3.5 metre ceilings. 31 levels of mid-rise apartments and 10 levels of high-rise apartments will be split by a recreational level incorporating a pool abutting the northern facade allowing panoramic city views. Typical apartments will range from 61sqm to 137sqm.
Queensbridge Tower incorporates an intended setback of 10 metres to the existing Freshwater Place apartment tower and the approved 25 Queensbridge Street highrise circa approximately 240m, however a variety of initiatives have been undertaken by Bates Smart to help alleviate any perceived intimacy issues. These include a screen-like façade, whilst also employing vertical privacy screening which allow for expansive views, without peering into neighbouring buildings.
Bates Smart have already used this method to great effect on Proximity Apartments which overlook Albert Park Lake, allowing for a stylist and efficient outcome. Further, balconies will be treated as winter gardens with the area protected by awning sashes which can be opened by occupants at their discretion, allowing for additional enclosed living space where desired.
A range of amenities will be located with the building, allowing residents the added benefit of hotel services within the one complex. These amenities include a recreational area on level 10 involving a pool, gym and spa as well as a bar for residents and hotel guests. Level 28 will also include similar recreational amenities, however will be exclusive to hotel members and residents of the upper levels of the building. One notion the planning application focuses on however, is the idea that this development will finally complete Queensbridge Square, in particular opening up the square to the southern end of Queensbridge Street. Bates Smart have designed all three buildings fronting the area allows for continuity of design.
The podium has been designed to keep uniformity with the current built environment along Queensbridge Street, drawing inspiration from the geometry of the Freshwater Place podium, with horizontal and vertical lines prevalent in the design. At ground level the development will include a large Schiavello showroom space, which is designed to be an “important visitor attraction in Southbank”. At street level, blue stone paving and greenery will be incorporated, an initiative which will definitely improve the area which is devoid of any vegetation at present.
Currently sections of Queensbridge Square are not pedestrian friendly, which was originally implemented to protect the area from party goers at the then QBH nightclub. The subsequent closure of the club and intended development of the site will allow for greater accessibility in and out of the square with the removal of the elevated wall separating Freshwater Place and Queensbridge Square.
The lack of smaller retail tenancies to help activate the area is noteworthy, although there are a great variety of outlets in the adjoining Freshwater Place precinct. Further the architects have emphasized the showroom component which they along with Schiavello believe will become a destination in itself. Based upon the plans there's no doubt Queensbridge Tower is one of the highest quality proposals in Melbourne at the moment and will definitely enhance Southbank. If approved, eventual construction will likely to be a joint venture between developers Schiavello and PDG, following the success of other recent developments undertaken by the pair including Prima Pearl in Southbank and Abode Apartments on Russell Street.
All images © Bates Smart