The Ecstacy of Bronze > 690-708 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

Roughly ten years ago Alastair and I found ourselves in the Franklin Street offices of developer PDG Corporation speaking to the Giuliano family about their impending redevelopment of the old Ansett headquarters, soon to be the 55 level, Verve 501 apartment tower. PDG Corporation who were relatively new to highrise development at the time have evolved over the last ten years to become one of Melbourne's premier developers, with a string of recent high quality and from's perspective, exceptionally visually appealing apartment towers.

For those unaware PDG's current highrise offerings consist of the under construction Prima Pearl & Abode 318 towers, which may well be joined by the redesigned  276m Queensbridge Tower on Southbank, which is currently going through the necessary approval process. Added to these, today's article looks at on one of the better planning applications i've viewed over my time, for a development site equal to any in terms of location and visibility. Currently with Melbourne City Council, PDG Corporation in cooperation with Jobs Australia are seeking to redevelop 690-708 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.


Perched above the Haymarket Roundabout and with a direct sight line down Flemington Road (see above) with all the airport/tourist traffic it funnels into the City of Melbourne on a daily basis, the site lends itself to landmark status worthy of a grand development. Enter the seemingly ubiquitous Elenberg Fraser. After the success of Abode 318, PDG Corporation have again turned to the white-hot team at Elenberg Fraser to deliver a grand project.

With neighbours such as the new multi-coloured Royal Childrens Hospital, Bio21, Melbourne University's Economics and Commerce building and the superlative Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre setting the benchmark in terms of design and visual appeal, the architects have responded the best way they know how - heavy use of bronze glazing with the clever use of perforated metal screens  -  typical Elenberg Fraser traits. Should the building be realised, it will seemingly sit very comfortably amongst its peers in terms of design quality.

As for particulars, the application calls for a 21 level apartment tower reaching 67 meters in height, although a 91 meter concept outline was also included to highlight the maximum site potential. Lower levels cater for 34 car spaces, unusually low yet a direct result of the site's close proximity to the CBD coupled with excellent transport links nearby. Also available are 135 bicycle bays with the subsequent levels containing 213 apartments, naturally incorporating a variety of apartment layouts and sizes. A gym, lounge and communal dining area will also be included over level 20.

Externally Elenberg Fraser have taken inspiration from the nearby Royal Park landscape, with the gum tree principally in focus. The design has in its own way mimicked the form of a singular gum tree, with the image above showing the buildings surface treatment to be similar to that of a gum , incorporating an undulating form with shades of green allude to the gum's varying foliage; the building is in effect a 21st Century gum tree as stated in the planning document.

The facade essentially consists of three elements; typical Elenberg Fraser bronze glazing, galvanised steel balustrades and perforated aluminium balustrades. Whilst the steel balustrades will act as dividing walls between apartment balconies, the simplicity and beauty of this design lies in the balcony balustrading applied in five shades to green and three shades of silver. Coupled with the buildings uneven form, the balcony balustrades are also folded at different angles and applied at different intervals to enhance the irregular theme and peak visual interest.

Treatment of the existing heritage building onsite is interesting, with the tower's form bulging gradually over the existing two level structure. The exposed bronze columns emanating from the rear of the heritage structure are prevalent while the heritage building itself will include remodelled office space. Southern facade excused, the remaining three aspects maintain active street frontages as seen above, with entrances either side of the heritage building emphasizing the distinction between old and new. Retail and cafe spaces are available while the Elizabeth Street frontage will be monopolised by Jobs Australia with clear glazed windows allowing passersby to view internal proceedings.

ESD initiatives include deeply recessed north-facing balconies in order to minimise the summer sun/cooling needs while planter boxes will be arranged intermittently over the three active facades leading to greater visual appeal and increased natural cooling. Facade design and finishes seek to maximise the natural ventilation of apartments whilst maintaining a stable internal temperature leading to less use of heating/cooling devices whilst rainwater will be collected and stored in order to irrigate the towers greenery and for toilet use. The towers intended overall energy rating of 6.6 stars exceeds standards and a Green Star rating of just under 4 is also expected.

Given 690-708 Elizabeth Street has just been released for public advertising, a Melbourne City Council planning decision is some time away.


All images above © Elenberg Fraser


See the 690-708 Elizabeth Street Melbourne forum thread for further images and details, otherwise the 690-708 Elizabeth Street Melbourne PDF is currently being advertised on Melbourne City Council's website and can be viewed here.


1 comment

Bilby's picture

More trashing of Melbourne's unique heritage - and I don't mean the Victorian on the corner. Why is our vernacular industrial Victorian and interwar architecture not valued at all in Melbourne? The heritage of this part of Carlton has been all but destroyed in the past coupe of years.

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