The pencil skyscraper > 464 Collins Street in depth

Some developers prefer their planning applications go through the approvals process with a low profile and minimal fuss whilst others take the very public, high exposure option. 464 Collins Street falls into the latter category with a raft of media stories about this incredible proposal hitting the papers and other mediums during June, days after being submitted to DPCD on May 27th. Developer Equiset (new website pending) has to date publicly championed the merits of 464 Collins Street, including its design excellence and innovative construction technique.

With a site width of 11m, the astonishingly thin structure designed by Bates Smart will reach 193.85 RL or roughly 181m above ground. According to Equiset such a structure is made possible due to a revolutionary construction method where a H-shape structure system is employed. The standard core and column method has been replaced; no columns will be present within the concrete structure, similar to Equiset's pilot tower using this method, Phoenix Apartments at 82 Flinders Street.

Thirteen commercial floors will cover the lower levels of the development, most likely utilised as strata space owing to floor spaces ranging between 114sqm and 416sqm. Thereafter 37 levels of residential living will follow with a sum of 185 apartments, split between 37 one-bed options and 148 two-bed options, including loft style variants for both. Overarching these apartments is Bates Smart's quest "To deliver a truly exemplary internal design and layout, based on notions of layout flexibility and individualisation. The internal division of each floor, particularly on the residential levels, will be highly flexible enabling future purchasers the opportunity to buy adjoining apartments, horizontally or vertically, and combine and internally fit them out to their personal preference."

Surprisingly enough the planning application states the existing Makers Mark building dating 1908 is not yet within a heritage overlay. In a case of absolute facadism nothing bar the ornate facade facing Collins Street will be spared from demolition should the application be approved and realised. While the Makers Mark facade will represent a grand entrance to the development with a double level foyer behind, a number of scenarios were considered when introducing a cantilevered design above Makers Mark to emphasize the existing structure. To that end the facade will jut out fourteen metres above the heritage parapet, framing the diminutive building below. A four metre cantilevered floorplate will also spread out above the adjoining 400 Collins street, suggesting that building will never be redeveloped.

At the opposite end, level 52 will host residential amenities including a lounge, gym, and an large outdoor terrace with impressive views. Levels 19-51 carry no set floorplans, rather a handful of indicative floorplans that can be adjusted to any floor in line with the developments highly adaptable ethos.

Whilst much detail has rightfully been placed into the integration of the Makers Mark facade into the new tower form, the rear of the redevelopment facing St James Lane has also come in for some attention. With a 70 space KLAUS car stacking system at the rear of the towers lower levels, Bates Smart have devised an integrated kinetic lighting strategy that not only covers the car park levels but provides a dynamic viewpoint in an otherwise non-activated laneway. Although different beasts, the first comparison that sprung to mind was the Crown car park fronting Clarendon Street South Melbourne with its activated glass facade featuring varying light patterns. 464 Collins Street will feature embedded LED technology within the facade that will follow the movements of vehicles behind.

Included within the planning application is an analysis of the immediate properties surrounding 464 Collins Street and their redevelopment potential. Whilst a number of properties carry the ability to be redeveloped into substantial towers, particular attention was paid to the site immediately west titled 470 Collins Street where Bates Smart have pondered the likelihood of a major tower.

Although unlikely to be developed due to recent refurbishments and an increasingly full tenancy, 470 Collins Street does provide the opportunity to yield a major tower in the future (concept below) and rather than provide separation between 464 Collins Street and any future 470 Collins Street development, Bates Smart have championed a back-to-back development scenario. This is somewhat of a self-serving argument given 464 Collins Street's miniscule site dimensions, and the architect's/developer's need to implement a side core in order to make any redevelopment viable.

This in turn raises one obvious point of contention when viewing this planning application. Collins Street is the CBD's premier artery steeped in history, wealth and prestige. Whilst I appreciate the designs, dare and hope this project gains planning approval, the prospect of a sheer concrete wall the best part of 180m high on Collins Street (seen in middle render, first image) visible from vast areas of the city and surrounds is notionally unacceptable.

Granted the precast wall along a common boundary is common practice, but a tower of this size in this location exemplifies an emerging issue. Essentially a question of policy, do planning bodies allow the proliferation of blank walls or is there a solution(s) to this visual blight?

Blockhead returns tomorrow to tackle this question with some innovative designs.

All images © Bates Smart / Equiset.


Peter Maltezos's picture

Concrete walls are a blank canvas for art.

Art is the answer! enlightened

(sung to the tune of Give Peace A Chance)

......All we are saying is give art a chance.....

I collect, therefore I am.

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Mark Baljak's picture

you will have your answer tomorrow Pete

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Rohan Storey's picture

Its a rather extreme proposal isnt it ? But apart from the big blank wall could be rather elegant. Of course more than just the facade should be kept - since the application was submitted, the building has been gazetted as one that now has an HO. But keeping the usual 10m (though these days its more like 6 or 3) would make redevelopment of the site into anything tall quite difficult. I know that Melbourne Heritage Action has been talking with the developers, and have had a positive response to the idea that the existing classically detailed chamber (corinthian columns and coffered ceiling) could be dismantled / reconstructed to become the new lobby, which happens to be about the same size. That would at least make the historic retention more than just skin deep.

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Chris Peska's picture

The dismantling and reassembling of the chamber for a new lobby is a splendid idea! Could that be something a developer could consider for the potential redevelopment of the Metro theatre?

Observe. Design. Build. Live.

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