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.
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:
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
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.