Further light can now be shed on the proposed 'Queens Place' development which is expected to eventually consume a sizeable and underutilised CBD corner site. Developer 3L Alliance has found a new home within the existing 350 Queen Street office complex onsite, that will eventually be flanked by dual high-rise residential towers.
With a nominal value of $750 million, the project will see an expansive five level podium topped with two towers terminating at 246 metres in height. Having only purchased the site during late 2014, 3L Alliance instated Cox Architecture and Fender Katsalidis as joint project architects following a limited design competition.
The sheer size of the development will likely see the residential towers delivered over two stages, with the current planning application seeking approval for Towers 1 and 2, with Tower 2's building envelope subject to further detailed development plans which will be provided by the development team for assessment at a future point.
Aviation exclusion zones has seen a separate Stage 1 plan for a 206 metre tower included, although for all intents and purposes the planning application focuses almost exclusively upon the dual 246 metre design.
‘Queens Place’ is a compelling opportunity to re-engage the site at 350 Queen St into the precinct. Using a finer grain of public connections and amenity paired with taller elements of urbane city proportions; the site is redefined to offer Melbourne’s CBD an activated, connected and enlivened precinct.
The design process has given rise to a concept that enriches the ground plane with new connections and an enhanced public realm within the Queen Victoria Market Precinct. In the podium, a variety of uses such as retail, childcare and commercial suites provide activation to the critical ‘first 25m’.
Atop the podium are positioned two towers, shaped and sculpted by design drivers from within and around the site. They step as they ascend, forming a dynamic pairing on Melbourne’s continuously evolving skyline. At both the ground plane and in the sky, this development has real potential to enliven and enrich the liveability and character of Melbourne’s CBD.Cox Architecture and Fender Katsalidis, architectural report
Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) exclusion zones have been taken into account within the 350 Queen Street planning documents. OLS is essentially a series of height limits for objects surrounding a particular aerodrome, with Essendon Airport the major consideration.
As the preferred 246 metre outcome would breach the OLS ceiling of 228.5 metres, an alternative scheme of 206 metres has been included within the planning documents for comparisons sake (and for approval should the 246 metre version fail). While various CBD towers already penetrate the OLS ceiling, including the nearby Aurora Melbourne Central, they do not penetrate the more rigid PAN-OPS ceiling.
350 Queen Street is no exception in this regard with the development team citing constructability and PAN-OPS limitations as halting their advance skyward.
Numerous references have been made to 'The first 25 metres' within the planning documents, alluding to the weight placed upon creating a dynamic podium structure.
The importance of the first 25m to the human experience at ground level and contribution to the City’s fabric is crucial. Queens Place makes a clear separation between tower and podium, providing a highly detailed vibrant base and a calm simple tower above.
Rather than treat the public space as the space left over from the development, the design team approached the task from the opposite direction, designing the public realm first responding to existing conditions, through site connections and solar access and then placed the buildings around this space.Cox Architecture and Fender Katsalidis, architectural report
The result is a highly articulated podium both externally and internally, with a large covered central plaza included at the heart of the project. Transparent glazing wraps ground level frontages while site entry points are discerned with distinctive bamboo plantings which supplements hanging greenery over the podium structure.
The curved podium is veiled with operable, contoured timber louvres which respond to prevailing weather conditions.
Both Melbourne City Council and the The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning have been consulted with regard to the size and nature of the proposed development. Based upon the joint discussions a twin tower outcome was considered most appropriate for 350 Queen Street.
Setbacks and tower separation has been considered, with a distance of between 15 and 33 metres representing the void between both buildings while a boundary setback of at least 4.5 metres are present above the podium.
The towers present in a clean and simple form, and this has been continued over the plant levels atop each structure. Described as a 'visual flourish' within the architecture report, the crown of each tower has been integrated into the tower form and will be glazed in bronze finishes thus providing a focal point from many surrounding angles.