Tong Eng Group's dazzling 210 metre entry into the Australian market

Vastly experienced Singaporean developer Tong Eng Group is seeking approval for a multi-coloured high-rise residential tower in the CBD's burgeoning north end. Operating for in excess of 50 years, the firm has selected 111-125 A’Beckett Street as their first project on Australian shores.

Purchased during early 2015, the 1,725sqm site in question is subject to a 65 level residential planning application which would retain the facade of the current heritage building onsite. Designed by Elenberg Fraser, 111-125 A’Beckett Street is set to be defined by its bow-tie shape and multi-coloured exterior.

The Melbourne site also marks Tong Eng Group's first venture abroad, with the developer also citing Sydney as a likely point of expansion.

111-125 A’Beckett Street application summary

Franklin and Elizabeth perspective. Image courtesy Elenberg Fraser
  • Application lodged: June 2015
  • Current site use: City Triumph Motorcycles within the Commonwealth Motors building
  • Proposed 65 level tower at 210 metres (226.38m AHD)
  • 632 apartments: 252 x 1BR, 378 x 2BR, 2 x 3BR
  • Five retail tenancies: 1,351sqm of space available over three levels
  • 130 car parking spaces and 310 bike parking spaces above ground
  • 1,940sqm of residential amenities over levels 8 and 32
  • Total GFA: 61,429sqm

Heritage interface

Design indicators and the intended tower podium. Images courtesy Elenberg Fraser

The existing B-grade listed Commonwealth Motors building facade will be retained for the most, with all bar 12 metres of the eastern aspect to remain. The demolished area will be rebuilt to match its current appearance during construction, which includes reinstating existing windows.

The podium is a key design element in the link between the street level and the vertical tower above. Taking design elements from the heritage building below, the podium attempts to articulate the strong horizontal movements and reappropriate them as balustrades, mullions and spandrels, whilst introducing a secondary vertical element through hanging greenery.

The inspiration for the design of these elements was taken from pre-war automobiles and motorbikes, linking the heritage of the heritage showroom and reimagining it as a 21st century decoration. They are imagined as metal prefabricated units which for a part of the curtain wall façade.

Elenberg Fraser: Urban Context Report

Between one and three metres of the existing interiors are slated to be retained, although DELWP have encouraged the development team to increase the amount retained given the large setback the tower employs from A'Beckett Street.

All that shimmers

With the tower's form constant, Elenberg Fraser have incorporated colour to bring a dynamism to the project's overall appearance.

The materiality of the tower is articulated as a glass façade, utilising a slightly tinted performance glazing system. The slightly tinted glass reflects the tones of the surrounding context at the various heights of the building, facilitating a subtle and elegant shift in building appearance at various levels.

Elenberg Fraser: Urban Context Report

The base exterior would see a neutral/silver reflective glazing with a gradual vertical transition to a multi-coloured tinted performance glazing. An inverse outcome is applied to the tower's spandrels which would see slices of colour through the main silver facade over lower levels, eventually reverting to silver as the performance glazing takes effect over the higher levels of the tower.

Tower form and relevant setbacks. Images courtesy Elenberg Fraser

The concave 'bow-tie' floorplate was deemed by the development team to be the most appropriate. Internal amenity is bolstered with sight lines capable of being diverted away from the neighbouring EQ Tower while also providing an optimal outcome when wind tested.

With no saddleback configurations, internal apartment sizes are slated to begin from 50sqm for 1 bedroom apartments, 60sqm for 2 bedroom (1 bathroom), 74sqm for 2 bedroom (2 bedroom) and 106sqm for 3 bedroom options; these figures include wintergardens or balconies.

DELWP showing support

Notes subsequent to the project's submission as seen by Urban Melbourne show that the Urban Design Unit within DELWP are generally supportive of the proposed tower. Subject to a number of design refinements and issues regarding possible tower crane penetration of the OLS ceiling, 111-125 A’Beckett Street looks to be well along the path to becoming reality.

111-125 A’Beckett Street development team

  • Developer: Feature Alpha Investments Pty Ltd (Tong Eng Group)
  • Architect: Elenberg Fraser
  • Project Manager: Sinclair Brook
  • Town Planner: Urbis
  • Traffic Consultant: Traffix
  • Waste Management Consultant: Leigh Design
  • Landscape Consultant: Tract
  • Building Surveyor: McKenzie Group
  • ESD Consultant and Services Engineer: Murchie
  • Structural and Civil Engineer: WSP
  • Services Engineer Murchie
  • Land Surveyor: Bosco Jonson
  • Quantity Surveyor: WT Partnership
  • Wind Engineer: MEL Consultants
  • Heritage: Bryce Raworth
  • Acoustic Engineer: Renzo Tonin
  • Fire Engineer: Omnii Fire Engineers


Qantas743's picture

Good proposal.

A bit of a worry if there's argy bargy re OLS crane penetration for a tower of this size.

How does that bode for the taller proposals?

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johnproctor's picture

for anyone wondering this has a Plot Ratio of 35:1.

submitted pre the interim controls so 'doesn't matter' but interesting nontheless to understand the potential difference 24:1 would make.

generally the setbacks on this proposal match the under 100m tower requirements in the interim controls but not the over 100m tower setbacks. Average about 7m they would be fine for a tower of about 140m.

to reduce the GFA to 24:1 they'd need to lop off about 25 stories I think.

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

They just need permission for a crane over the OLS during construction. No big deal.

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

I think if they increased the setbacks to 10.5m form the rear and western boundaries they would reduce the floor area enough to get down to a 1:24 plot ratio.

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