Image © Rothe Lowman

What the Fook: 84-88 Queensbridge Street, Southbank

News surfaced last week of another prime Southbank site slated for a major residential tower being snapped up by an Asian property firm intent on making an immediate impact in Melbourne. The Australian reported that Chinese group Financial Fook has purchased 84-88 Queensbridge Street for $18 million via its new subsidiary Starryland Melbourne.

While Starryland may be in its formative stages, parent company Financial Fook have pounced on the site and The Australian suggests they may also be running the ruler over a nearby site at 25 Queensbridge Street, which holds a planning permit for a 71 level, 586 apartment tower.

The subject of today's article however was submitted for consideration to DTPLI during December by Contour Consultants on behalf of then site owners Shriar Nominees Pty Ltd and D&L Harris Investment Pty Ltd.

Hero image. Image © Rothe Lowman

Conceived by Rothe Lowman, the architect envisages replacing the modest existing low rise office block at the junction of the Kings Way overpass with a 55 level predominantly residential tower reaching 183 metres in height.

Rothe Lowman state "The proposed development will make a major contribution to the surrounding public realm and will be defined by high-quality architecture. The contemporary architectural expression will create a beneficial bookend to Queensbridge Street and provide a natural Gateway to and from the City when experienced from Kings Way overpass."

The above assertion may have credence, yet when viewed with the Verge and 256 City Road combination on the opposite flank of Kings Way, the proposal gains a new dimension. Laurence Dragomir has produced a render visualising what the area surrounding Kings Way may resemble in a few years time, as seen below.

In addition to being a bookend to towers situated closer to the Yarra, it seems 84-88 Queensbridge Street coupled with 256 City Road would act more as a twin gateway to Southbank for those heading in a northerly direction, owing the the fact they're the tallest structures in the immediate area and of a similar height.

The handy work of Laurence Dragomir aka Blockhead visualising a new Kings Way entry to Southbank.

As for the tower itself the immediate eight levels constitutes the podium, with retail spaces and a distinctive lobby fronting Queensbridge Street. Broken by black bands, two fractal elements protruding from the podium represent a 151 sqm commercial space and 108 sqm gym, activating what for the most is an above ground car park.

Included within the podium are 108 car parking spaces and 92 bicycle bays while the podium top sees a green common area and dining hall. Thereafter the slender tower hosts 295 apartments with options slated to include 1 Bed/1 Bath, 2 Bed/1 Bath and 2 Bed/2 Bath layouts. Generally each level will carry six dwellings with apartments sizes ranging between 50 sqm and 75 sqm.

Breaking the tower's form at level 42 is a recessed floor plate which features a mix of apartments and residential amenity, chief of which is a 23-seat cinema room which when not in use acts as a viewing deck with sweeping views toward the CBD.

Podium aspect. Image © Rothe Lowman

Of the design quality, Rothe Lowman states "The proposed building is a sophisticated response to the brief and context where the complexities inherent in the project are confronted through a solution that belies its simplicity. Delivering the requisite apartment amenity, responding effectively to the urban context and ensuring an inherently efficient solution are all resolved through a carefully considered and orchestrated tower plan.

The architectural expression in turn translates the plan into a beautifully elegant, timeless building. At the grandest scale the building is designed to fulfil its role as an important addition to the city yet on approach the building reveals a fine scale and level of detail appropriate to its use as a residential building." Basically it's an articulated, visually pleasing building.

What will be of interest is the speed at which the project will advance to sales, assuming the tower receives approval. Fellow Asian developers have wasted no time in marketing their projects, with the Marco Melbourne project close to 84-88 Queensbridge Street a prime example. Expectations are that upon approval 84-88 Queensbridge Street will join the throng of residential towers seeking their place on the skyline.

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