Forming the Flinders Street Neighbourhood of Lend Lease's $1.5 billion Melbourne Quarter development at Batman's Hill, an application is being assessed for three Fender Katsalidis-designed towers delivering 1,644 apartments at 614-666 Flinders Street.
Located within Docklands, Melbourne Quarter is a key urban infill location opposite Southern Cross Station, with frontages to Collins Street, Flinders Street, Aurora Lane and Wurundjeri Way. The site consists of a number of land parcels, as well as air rights over Wurundjeri Way.
Places Victoria awarded the rights to develop the precinct to Lend Lease on 31 July 2013, following which a Precinct Development Plan for the site was developed and lodged with DTPLI in February 2014. Approval was consequently given during October 2014 and in November 2014 Lend Lease rebranded the site as Melbourne Quarter, commencing the early marketing phase of the development.
While nothing out of the ordinary in terms of height; residential towers R1 and R2 at measure 135.5m in height while the smaller R3 measures 70.6m from Flinders Street. The sheer breadth of the two taller towers' floor plates coupled with the number of apartments across the development is rather impressive.
However coupled with a uniform height, facade articulation and finishes, there is a danger of creating a large visual mass on the skyline. The arrangement of the buildings onsite appears to try to address this issue, but it would be surprising if the development team weren't asked to provide greater variance to each individual tower's facade in order to create a point of difference and to further visually distinguish one from another similar to what has occurred with the Upper West Side project.
The towers' respective footprints are illustrated in the typical floorplans below:
The three towers rise above a common deck with four car parking levels beneath the deck. The Flinders Street heritage wall remains, however it is punctured to allow for vehicular and pedestrian traffic into the site, providing a front door to the project and an interface with the new Flinders Street Plaza, while offering the opportunity for public reinterpretation of the physical and symbolic roles of the wall.
The plaza also offers the opportunity for re-engagement of the heritage wall as an essential part of the future of Melbourne Quarter, as well as a connection to the site's past.
Located centrally at the heart of the Flinders Street Neighbourhood is Batman's Garden, a green space which sits just south of the shorter R3 tower which allows over 50% of the landscaped area having access to sunlight from the morning through to lunch on 22 September. Batman's Garden is a protected space away from the noise of trains and vehicular traffic, forming a welcome area of respite surrounded by the residential buildings with views back towards the city skyline.
Considered a primary component of the series of linked public external spaces leading through the site from Flinders Street to Collins Street, Batman’s Garden provides external amenity for the residential neighbourhood and the general public by creating integrated active and passive recreation areas which interface with and are activated by residential, retail (cafe) and community uses.
It sits 12.5m above Flinders Street and 3.5m below Collins Street, playing a pivotal role in the re establishment of Batman's Hill and negotiating the change in level from north to south.
Melbourne Quarter is a westward extension of the character of the Melbourne CBD. That character is derived from the built form, the resultant public and private spaces, and the way those are used and inhabited. That extension of Melbourne occurs through the hierarchy of road networks – the frontage to the major road of Flinders Street (and Collins Street when the whole Melbourne Quarter has been built out), the connection of those by the minor road of North South Lane, and the filigree of minor connections, echoing the famous laneways of Melbourne.
The development recreates the historic Batman’s Hill, both physically and in terms of its significance of place. The ground plane ascends from Flinders Street to Collins Street in a reconstructed topography of steps and levels. The public realm that follows this ‘hill’ is conceived as an urban grain flowing between and under the built form.Planning and context submission.
Returning to the topic of facades, the articulation of towers R1 & R2 bares some strong similarities to Lend Lease's Koichi Takada Archtects-designed 839-889 Collins Street residential project at Victoria Habour. However in place of a more dynamic and textured facade of brick and timber, the taller two towers within Melbourne Quarter are clad in matching metal panelling forming a waved expression across the facades.
These are supplemented by planter boxes which run along indented spines up the towers, providing a softer more natural touch. R3 while shorter has a far greater vertical expression of timber fins spanning three floors, interrupted by dual level spanning fins staggered between each vertical cluster.
The towers are to be developed in stages with R1 the first cab off the rankalong with Batman's Garden and part of the deck, followed by R2 and R3, developing gradually north as the Collins Street neighbourhood simultaneously develops southward.