A new beginning for St Kilda's Novotel?

The Latin expression 'De Novo' is generally understood to mean 'a new beginning' or 'starting afresh' and while not the name of the proposed development at 14-16 The Esplanade, it's quite an apt description as it ushers in a new era for the highly recognisable bayside site. The four-star Novotel St Kilda situated over 5,800sqm is subject to a current planning application which would do away with the predominantly precast structure in favour of hundreds of dwellings.

View from The Esplanade. © Metier3

Designed by local firm Metier3, the 7-storey, 300 apartment development marks Sydney firm Barana Group's first foray into the Melbourne residential market given they own the existing hotel. According to a 2014 AFR article Novotel will likely continue to operate for some years yet due to Accor's existing management agreement, so the development is very much a long term prospect.

Regardless a planning application has been lodged with City of Port Phillip with plans available for public perusal over the new year period.

14-16 The Esplanade

  • Project value: $55 million
  • 300 apartments in a converted and expanded existing structure
  • 166 * 1BR, 71 * 2BR, 31 * 3BR, 32 * townhouse
  • Two Buildings to RL 27.2 metres in height
  • 352 car spaces, 30 motor bike spaces and 145 bicycle spaces across three levels of basement parking
  • Swimming pool, gym, spa and associated facilities at basement level
14-16 The Esplanade Level 1 Plan. © Metier3

Alfred Square

A key consideration of the proposal is its response to the objectives and strategies of the St Kilda Foreshore Urban Design Framework (2003) with regard to improving the public realm. 14-16 The Esplanade's proposed development would see engagement with Upper Esplanade and Alfred Square, outlined in the following ways:

  • Improve the Alfred Square edge to Upper Esplanade to make the square more accessible and inviting to enter from the street;
  • Prepare a landscape plan for Alfred Square that recognises the role of the square as a ceremonial, commemorative and contemplative space and traditional viewing place;
  • Address the conservation of heritage fabric, augmentation of the formal design, enhancement of interpretive values and views, improvements to amenity, provision of additional, coordinated seating and shelter, and replacement of aging surface materials of Alfred Square.
Strategy for Alfred Square. © Metier3

Site history

The site has seen a numerous entertainment-based uses over the course of almost a century with the first building to open on the site being the Wattle Path Dance Saloon and Café. It later played host to Melbourne's most famous ice skating rink, St Moritz between 1939 and 1981, becoming enormously popular during the war years and accommodating up to 2,000 people on its 1,850sqm ice rink.

St Moritz Ice Rink, St Kilda. © City of Port Phillip

Following its closure the complex succumbed to fire during 1984, which is not unusual for buildings in St Kilda...or so it would seem. The St Moritz Bar at Medibank IceHouse in is named in honour of the famous rink. The St Moritz hotel was then developed onsite during the early 1990's before being renamed as Novotel ­Bayside upon Accor taking over the venue, only to assume the current Novotel Melbourne, St Kilda thereafter.


The proposal seeks to create a stronger edge and definition to Alfred Square and The Esplanade by occupying the full extent of the site. There exists the risk that the development will read as a great big wall, due to the articulation of the form and consistent height of both buildings. Further division of the proposals form via the introduction of a north-south site link, thus creating three buildings, would provide some variation to the height of each building and go some way to alleviating the potential perception of uniform bulk.

Additionally while the three buildings could be treated as a 'family' with a variation of the modular facade, a shared DNA that while similar offers a point of difference for each building.

Overall the proposal breathes new life into a site that while prominent does not fulfill its true potential as a cornerstone of the St Kilda foreshore. It will certainly be interesting to see how the greater community responds to the development plans, could it be another St Kilda Triangle episode?

Project team

  • Developer: Barana Group
  • Architects: Metier3
  • ​Town Planning: Message Consultants​
  • Traffic: Cardno
  • ESD: JBA
  • Landscaping: Papworth Design
  • Waste: Leigh Design
  • Land sales agent: Mark Wizel, CBRE
My Real Estate Mate logo

Development & Planning

Friday, October 28, 2016 - 00:00
The route 11 tram not so long ago used to be known as the route 112 which ran from West Preston to St Kilda. The old 112 route was split in two (routes 11 and 12) and route 11 now runs from West Preston and terminates at Victoria Harbour in...

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 14:30
On Monday 24th of October, the iCities: World Class CBDs series conference kicks off. First held in Kuala Lumpur, this year's conference is to be held at the Langham Hotel on Southbank. iCities is owned and operated by iProperty Group, a network property under the REA Group umbrella brand. Over...


Visual Melbourne

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 17:00
Melbourne’s architectural landscape is a wonderful juxtaposition of modern and Victorian architecture. Although the CBD has been peppered with many skyscrapers, its historical structures have won Melbourne the title of “Australia’s most European city”. Perhaps the most striking example of this juxtaposition between old and new is the Coops Shot...

Transport & Design

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 07:00
108 Leicester Street is a collection of eight multi-level Fitzroy townhouses that have been designed to respond to the changing face of multi-residential living in Melbourne. The hybrid inner-city dwellings combine developer/builder FOURSQ with Melbourne firm BKK Architects. The design acknowledges the housing typologies of the development's Fitzroy neighbourhood with...

Sustainability & Environment

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 00:00
The proposed new Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) on Sturt Street is shaping to become much more than a cutting edge venue. While the project has been given coverage to date across a range of mediums, very little has been said regarding the project playing an integral part in the...