DEXUS seeking a Nexus: 32-44 Flinders Street planning application

After the best part of six months at planning the lid is being lifted on Sydney-based DEXUS Property Group's intentions for their prized 32-44 Flinders Street site. Superseding an earlier proposal of 56 levels, the current 65 level proposal represents another entry into the burgeoning list of 200 metre plus residential towers in Melbourne.

Constructed during 1998, DEXUS have seen it fit to replace the onsite multi-level car park with a residential development which holds four separate frontages. Key to the proposal is the provision of heightened amenity to the public realm which seeks to draw in street level activity; a far cry from the current dynamic which sees the immediate area somewhat lacklustre and isolated.

Should approval be granted, it provides DEXUS with an opportunity to diversify beyond its established office and industrial portfolio. Conversely selling the asset may be an option as outlined within this article.

32-44 Flinders Street application summary

Preliminary perspectives of 32 Flinders Street. Images courtesy SJB Architects
  • Application lodged December 2014
  • 2,087sqm site
  • Current use: 561-bay Wilson Car Park over 10 levels
  • Seeking approval for two buildings with a combined 625 dwellings
  • 65 level tower @ 212.1 metres and 11 level building @ 44.05 metres
  • ​427 vehicle and 216 bicycle bays with four basement levels
  • Frontage to Flinders Street, Flinders Lane, Spark Lane & Sargood Lane
  • Three separate amenities levels
  • Three ground floor commercial tenancies: 194sqm total

Design intent

The configuration of the development is that of a podium and tower form that ensures that the street edge of the Hoddle Grid is strongly articulated and held. This development is envisioned as a catalyst for the rejuvenation of the urban realm in this portion of the CBD, providing a net community benefit.

The proposed development will provide key pedestrian network connections, activation visible from laneway entrances and increased amenity on Flinders Lane by way of the removal of car parking access to the site from this location and gifting the private portion of Spark Lane to MCC.

In addition, the 5 level car parking link bridge that spans the Spark Lane alignment on the site is to be removed to ensure that sunlight penetration is given to the laneway in this area as well as to articulate the two addresses as separate but related built form.

SJB Architects, Planning Submission

Shape and style

Intended Flinders Street frontage. Image courtesy SJB Architects

The project's podium is designed in both scale and composition to slot into the existing landscape by employing a monolithic yet articulated finish. Dedicated for the most to car parking, the podium will feature an active edge to Flinders Street by way of three apartments per level masking the car parking facilities.

Whilst the podium is strong and features a composite stone and concrete finish, the tower itself is describes as "An eye catching beacon on the edge of the CBD" within planning documents. This is both a reflection of the form and exterior finish employed where the tower is lobed and bifurcated in its shape.

The form of the tower responds to all accepted setback conditions to the neighbouring buildings. Where there is close proximity to the Herald and Weekly Times tower to the west, the tower form minimises the amenity impact by curving away to open view corridors. This allows occupants of the adjacent tower tangential views away from the proposed tower face and allows residents of dwellings in the proposed tower excellent views to the south.

SJB Architects, Planning Submission

Externally the tower's intended cladding begins with darker glazing over the lower levels which progressively morphs into a lighter crown defined by fins and metalic/fritted glazing, whilst a vertical bronze/burnt orange slither bisects the height of the tower.

Activation down low and apartments up high

Spark Lane and Sargood Lane stand to benefit from the redevelopment with the activation of their laneway edges expected. By creating separate podium structures, the subsequent additional public space is expected to bring new/additional activity to the enhanced laneway network by way of:

  • Providing a new pedestrian connection from Flinders Lane to Sargood Lane
  • Providing new retail activation & interfaces
  • Consolidating vehicular access at Flinders Street, away from the laneways
  • Allowing Spark Lane to be optimised by removing the existing 5 level car parking link bridge above
  • Providing a new lobby address to Spark Lane by gifting MCC with private land
  • Allowing for greater passive surveillance throughout the area
Ground level rebirth. Image courtesy SJB Architects

Seven basic dwelling types are included within the proposal, ranging from 1bed/1bath to 3bed/3bath. Single bedroom apartments constitute approximately 40% of the overall count of 625, whilst 250 dual bedroom options are also present.

The balance of dwellings are split between 97 three bedroom apartments and 30 triple bedroom SoHo options located within the 11 level building facing Flinders Lane. 117 triple bedroom options are held within 32-44 Flinders Street which accounts for near on 20% of overall dwelling numbers; a healthy figure relative to many other similar sized apartment developments.

32-44 Flinders Street application team

  • Developer: DEXUS Funds Management
  • Architect & Planning: SJB Architects
  • Interior design: Bates Smart
  • Project Manager: APP
  • Town Planning: Urbis
  • Structural Engineer: Webber Design
  • Services Engineer: Wood and Grieve
  • Engineer: ARUP
  • Landscape Consultant: Tract
  • Traffic Engineer: GTA consultants
  • Waste: Leigh Design
  • Wind assessment: MEL Consultants
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