Rebirthed > 499 St. Kilda Road finds new life

St. Kilda Road has gone about transforming itself from a commercial hub into a haven for upmarket apartments for some time now, morphing from a dead after hours office precinct into an affluent residential boulevard.

A new proposal for the Fawkner Centre at 499 St. Kilda Road continues this trend, with intentions to convert the dated commercial tower into a rejuvenated 19 level residential complex.  Currently the Fawkner Centre stands at 18 levels and ulilises approximately half the 6,050 square metre site with 20,000sqm of office space and five retail tenancies the headline figures.

After purchasing the site during 2012, local developer LAS Group now aims to transform the complex into 19 levels of apartments whilst also expanding the smaller podium building toward St. Kilda Road. Within this new scheme, residential facilities are principally located atop the podium building, whilst double storey dwellings will be included amongst the anticipated 245 apartments available.

Level 19 will house outdoor facilities for the associated penthouses below while the aforementioned residents facilities include a lounge, communal garden, sauna and steam room, yoga facilities, gym as well as an indoor pool and external sundeck. A total of 245 apartments with a variety of layouts will be developed in the project in conjunction with 293 car parks, 19 tandem car parks and 270 bike spaces.

3020.5 square metres of new area will be built, complementing the refurbishment however there are no plans to include retail space into the reincarnated structure. Along the St. Kilda Road frontage the proposal aims to develop a new identity for the building with the lanning application stating that the construction of an additional 7 levels to that side of the building will help change the “face” of the structure from its current bland office exterior to that of a dymanic residential building.

In addition to augmenting the original structure, the St. Kilda Road interface will be revamped via a new drop off zone in conjunction with a new mirrored canopy which will greet residents as they enter the building, creating a distinctive entrance for the revamped tower.  Reconnecting the building with its surrounds is one of the key areas project architect Elenberg Fraser and landscape design firm Oculus have focused on, with high attention to detail given to revitalising the connections between building adjoining enviorns.

At present, the Fawkner Park interface includes a large at grade car park against the boundary.  Through the introduction of initiatives such as soft articulated fencing and landscaping, a stepped landscaped façade to the ground and first floor of the building and planter boxes at ground level with vertical batten fencing, the design team have aimed to “soften” the building.  By creating a visual link more in keeping with the qualities of the park, the designers intent to “reactivate and reinstate the visual relationship between the building and Fawkner Park.”

In keeping with the “greening” of the site, the vehicular access way between St. Kilda Road and Fawkner Park will be eliminated, transforming it into a pedestrian link with a green edge being planted along the passageway.

Through the courtyards at ground level, pergola like structures are incorporated which are designed to provide privacy from level 1 as well as promote the landscaping to flourish and spread in a natural fashion.  Enhanced connections with Fawkner Park and private access for residents aims to promote use to the park.

As a refurbishment rather than new build, certain constraints were considered by Elenberg Fraser to ensure the new design would not affect the structural integrity of the existing building, in particular the existing structural spandrels which constitute the façade.

By remodelling and recladding the spandrels in a way that gradually transitions vertically and horizontally along the building’s elevation, they have been able to develop an appealing solution to the dated concrete façade which exists at present.  By having the spandrels transition horizontally, the appearance of the building is altered dramatically without stripping the existing original form.

Furthermore, a secondary level of articulation has been introduced to the façade, with a shifting pattern developed that is able to further enhance the elevation by the creation of a three-dimensional like illusion. The carved spandrels are planned to be reclad in a silver metal, with surrounding aspects painted a dark colour to allow the spandrels to highlight the architectural statement across the façade.

Either side of the main facades will be given a dark curtain wall combined with metallic trims as a way to “provide an anchor to the building’s form and complement the rest of the building”.

Having been with state planning body DTPLI for a number of months, 499 St Kilda Road's future will become clear soon enough with a decision on approval likely in the short to medium term.

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