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AZX Group initiate A'Beckett Residences: 183-189 A'Beckett Street, Melbourne

Designed by The Buchan Group for burgeoning developer AZX Group, A'Beckett Residences as it has been dubbed seeks to occupy a 1,038sqm site at 183-189 A'Beckett Street in the rapidly growing CBD North Precinct. Rising 67-storeys for a height of 205.5 metres the proposed tower comprises 471 apartments with 102sqm of ground floor retail atop two basement levels.

The application like many other tall towers proposed for both Melbourne's CBD and Southbank was lodged prior to the introduction of Planning Scheme Amendment C262, and will therefore be considered under the previous rules.

A'Beckett Residences. Image courtesy The Buchan Group

Application summary

  • Application lodged June 2015.
  • Existing building over the 1,038sqm site to be retained and incorporated.
  • 67-storeys, 205.5 metres to top of plant.
  • 471 apartments.
  • 203 x 1BR, 175 x 1BR+study, 92 x 2BR, 1 x 3BR.
  • 102 sqm of retail in one tenancy.
  • Two basement levels with 168 resident storage cages, 36 storage lockers and 137 bike racks.
  • 44 car parks over five levels to the rear of the site.
  • Resident amenity over levels 44 and 45.

Design basis

During our design process, various forms were generated to explore potential envelopes for this site with an aim to create an iconic new tower for the City of Melbourne. The proposal is a direct response to the many constraints imposed on the site both inherent and desired.

As principal designers of the A'Beckett Residences proposal, The Buchan Group has been able to ensure the seamless integration of pedestrian realm, public realm, retail, ground floor plane activation and the proposed iconic built form and tall-tower typology.

The Buchan Group

According to the Design and Context Report which was submitted as part of the planning process, Buchan's design for the proposed tower draws on the scale, materiality and context of the surrounding streetscape with the tower employing a very ordered facade, simple and restrained yet equally impressive at this scale. This tower is in stark contrast to some of the other fully glazed towers going up in the area.

The existing building on site was designed by Edgar Fielder Billson (a former associate of Walter Burley Griffin) during 1937 as a factory and office in the 'Moderne Style' with its curved form and strong horizontal emphasis. The building is currently not graded by Council but is under consideration for a B Grade heritage listing.

Together with the vertical nature of the tower and articulation of its facade, the two building forms create an interesting visual juxtaposition and composition of elements.

The strategy for heritage conservation and readaptation seeks to retain more than just the building's facade: other elements of building fabric such as existing slabs, openings and columns are retained. This along with the genesis of the tower's massing and form is illustrated in the diagram below:

Massing diagram. Image courtesy of The Buchan Group

The proposal as such is composed of three elements: a lower podium comprising the existing building fabric, a tapered upper podium to a height of 40 metres setback 1.5 metres from the street, and the tower proper, setback a further five metres. Part of the rationale for an upper podium is to conceal the adjoining City Tempo building's nondescript facade.

The design has been influenced by a number of design devices. The use of robust materials, with a depth of character and texture, forms a main element.

The use of multiple tones of light grey, blue and green reflective glass reflect the city's fabric at upper levels. A hierarchy of solid masonry, and lightweight envelopes, reflect the diverse, and irregular grain of the streetscape and create picture windows framing the city's views from within each apartment.

The Buchan Group
A'Beckett Street frontage. Image courtesy of The Buchan Group

A lukewarm reception

Initial design advice offered by DELWP shows that in the proposals initial form it would struggle to gain support. Key issues identified include setbacks to the eastern and southern boundary, retention of more than the facade of the existing onsite building, how the existing building interacts with the new tower above, treatment to blank elevations and ground floor circulation. In this regard changes to the design seem certain.

On a wider note 183-189 A'Beckett Street forms one of AZX Group's stable of projects dotted around inner Melbourne. Also in their keep are two sites formerly held by Grocon on the CUB Carlton site, a 411sqm development site at 685 La Trobe Street and another in Villiers Street North Melbourne.

Riverina Footscray is in the formative stages of construction while a more modest development of 21 apartments is also on AZX Group's radar in Brighton.

Project team

  • Developer and Development Manager: AZX Group (Ausralia Xing Seven Development Pty Ltd)
  • Architecture / Interiors: The Buchan Group
  • Planning Consultant: Urbis
  • Conservation / Heritage Consultant: Bryce Raworth
  • Traffic Assessment: Traffix Group
  • Structural, Civil, Services, Facade, Wind, ESD and Acoustic Engineers: Aurecon
  • Waste Management: Leigh Design
  • Building Surveyor and DDA: PLP Building Surveyors and Consultants

6 comments

Bilby's picture

Matthew Guy personally intervened to leave this one off the final C186 Hoddle Grid heritage amendment - despite the fact that it already had the second highest grading (B) available for heritage buildings in Melbourne. There is zero justification for treating it the way the developer is proposing here - particularly in light of the original Moderne interiors. In addition, council should immediately apply for an Interim Protection order on the basis of the heritage assessment already done, and apply to the new Minister for approval. The front of the roof should be retained and the tower set back further, in line with the Planning Scheme guidelines for treating heritage buildings. Here is a link to the heritage report and some relevant statements from it:

https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/BuildingandPlanning/Planning/planningsc...

Do a search for "Grange Lynne Pty Ltd" to find the relevant page.

"How is it significant?
The Grange Lynne Pty Ltd building is significant historically and aesthetically to the Melbourne Capital City Zone

Why is it significant?

Aesthetically the Grange Lynne Pty Ltd building is a successfully designed and highly representative example of the Moderne style, as applied to a City commercial building, which counteracts curved verticals with horizontal elements to achieve a balanced, three-dimensionally perceived design. The decorative aspects of the dark brown brick façade, such as the vertical fin and round windows of the stairwell, are particularly noteworthy. While the skilful addition of a similarly detailed third storey by the firm of R & M King has changed the proportions of the façade, this has detracted little from the integrity of the initial concept, showing the respect held by these architects for the earlier design.

The building is historically significant as a well- preserved inter-war City workshop and warehouse and one of a small number of surviving designs from the noted architect, Edward F Billson, a former pupil and associate of Walter Burley Griffin. The building is also a reflection of long-term industry and warehouse concentration in this part of the City and, in particular, the printing industry grouping near the new Argus newspaper building, showing the historical grouping and evolution of similar uses that have been assessed as significant elements of the City’s development."

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Bilby's picture

Here is the National Trust listing also: http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/64269

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Aussie Steve's picture

Bilby, you are right. The poor way in which this heritage building is treated is atrocious. The planning application should be refused on those grounds alone!

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Bilby's picture

Amazing tiled stairwell, moderne staircase, port hole windows, steel signage and moderne styled curved entryway from this heritage gem. Time for an Interim Protection Order, Minister Wynne and CofM ...

https://www.flickr.com/search/?q=185+a%27beckett

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Daniel Chen's picture

Seems like the gov is planning a brand new accommodation project for the upcoming refugees!

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Christoph Hewett's picture

Planning notice was posted on the building last week. #201535725 "Please note that any objections submitted should be limited to heritage matters"

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