Preston like many pockets around Melbourne has become a hotspot in terms of apartment development in recent years, although this process has been a drawn out affair. During the early 2000's Darebin City Council initiated an integrated development plan for the area with the intention of reinventing low-rise industrial warehouses into a thriving, high density, high amenity area. Preston Junction, bound by High Street, Plenty Road and Bell Street was slated for the greatest concentration of high density developments, with this plan holding true to date.
After a more than sluggish start the area ushered in its first completed substantial project during 2007 when the 81-apartment M1 Urban complex was successfully delivered. Many apartment developments have followed since, with tower cranes working on ever larger projects within Preston Junction which at the moment sees the areas tallest development, Tre Monte (12 levels, 136 apartments ) in early stages of construction.
Adding further weight to the area's transformation, a new planning application has been lodged within recent days that if realised may just become Preston's defining landmark. Intending to replace the what is now a low-rise Paintmobile outlet, 6-34 High Street seeks the approval of an 18 level, 60m mixed-use tower. Located behind the Junction Hotel as seen below, the proposed tower would create a defining entry point when heading through Preston Junction in a northerly direction along one of Melbourne's heavily used sub-arterial roadways.
A product of architecture and consultancy firm Design Consortia Australia, the building is expected to deliver a total of 209 apartments comprising 136 two bedroom units with the balance consisting of single bedroom dwellings while dual bedroom townhouses will be offered through the podium. While apartment sizes remain within certain size bands, a myriad of apartment layouts and shapes have been included principally due to the abnormal floorplate and many setbacks within the design.
Sub levels see parking allowance for 273 vehicles split between traditional parking and a car stacker system. Of those, 211 spaces are dedicated toward residents while 62 spaces are available for the 2023m² of commercial space through the podium of the intended tower. Similarly 241 bicycle spaces have been catered for with 209 dedicated residential, 7 commercial and 25 visitor spaces. An internal area shrouded by the podium will host communal space which includes a water fountain and a 255m² outdoor playground. Also designed into the scheme's podium is a large 606m² gym facing High Street with six retail spaces and two office allocations rounding out the frontages to both High Street and Plenty Road.
Planter boxes have been included atop level 12 within a communal garden, seeing in excess of 200 plots available for residents inclined to grow their own produce. Other elevated facilities include a communal barbeque area and multi-purpose spaces.
What makes 6-34 High Street an interesting and meritorious design is its external features relative to those of immediate existing apartment buildings. Where most if not all existing apartment buildings in the area rely heavily upon precast elements and designs with monotonous horizontal banding (as seen in the first image above) which makes for a bland urban experience, Design Consortia Australia have created a unique, expressive and dynamic proposal with many varying elements. Like it or not 6-34 High Street certainly breaks the mould which is something to be encouraged.
By virtue of its location, "The proposal celebrates and underpins the major landmark or gateway site to Preston at the point of bifurcation or divergence of High Street and Plenty Road with a towered elliptical building at the southern edge of 18 storeys." The scheme is defined by a vertical orange indentation running the height of the tower which would act as a strong visual marker if heading north along High Street. Add curves, a curtail glass facade and/or fractal facade in part and 6-34 High Street manages to set itself apart from the pack, although the overall height of the application will come under close scrutiny.
6-34 High Street Preston will surely be a litmus test for the future direction and high-rise aspirations of Preston Junction and surrounds. Interesting times ahead!