Urbanest adds another tower to the student accommodation surge

With an already impressive list of recently completed and upcoming projects, Melbourne's student accommodation sector looks set to receive another Urbanest location with the operator sizing up a prime Carlton corner site.

A $61 million proposal has been lodged with City of Melbourne during April that would see a new tower containing 628 student beds at 599-605 Swanston Street. Rising behind a retained heritage facade, the proposal adds to the crush of development surrounding the Queensberry Street and Swanston Street intersection.

More so Urbanest's latest Melbourne location underwrites the strength in the student accommodation market, with a plethora of inner city projects in the development pipeline as operators scramble to respond to pent-up demand.

599-605 Swanston Street development summary

Perspective view of the proposed tower. Planning image: Hayball
  • 1,711sqm island site containing a heritage building onsite
  • Proposed 20 storey tower of 61.5 metres
  • 628 student beds within 289 units
  • 924sqm communal internal space and 336sqm communal external space
  • 194sqm retail area
  • Total GFA: 17,394sqm
  • 0 car parking spaces and 87 bicycle bays

Design statement

The articulation of detail across the facades aims to treat the building in the round with a responsive kit of parts that retains a considered reading from street and skyline. A fine bronze metallic blade pattern is distributed over a high-quality performance glass skin.

The level of transparency is controlled by the glass and blade density.

The pure glass skin is revealed at lower levels to make the active common areas and retail visible. At the skyline level the glass is also revealed to promote a sky reflectance and relationship to the commercial city backdrop.

Hayball Urban Context Report

Readers may be aware that 599-605 Swanston Street's external appearance holds certain similarities to a fellow current Hayball-designed student accommodation project at 42-50 La Trobe Street. That aside 599-605 Swanston Street in a design sense is far superior relative to a number of student accommodation projects delivered along Swanston Street in the early 2000's that could now be considered a blight on the landscape.

Lower level transparency

The onsite 1878-era heritage building holds a C grade listing and is set to be facaded during the demolition stage. The development team has argued that "this extent of demolition is acceptable given it involves fabric that is either not visible from the public realm, or that is secondary in character."

The retained exterior is set to be amalgamated with a heavy glazing over lower levels that will frame four separate retail tenancies to Brompton Place and Queensberry Street, with a further tenancy facing Swanston Street. A lounge, gym, study desks and large living room are also slated to interact with Queensberry Street.

Urbanest's two completed Melbourne projects. Images: DKO Architecture

Urbanest in Melbourne

Since the outfit's creation during 2008 Urbanest have pursued a national roll-out of student accommodation projects. Now one of the nation's largest accommodation providers, Urbanest's Melbourne presence is more of a recent effort with their first project at 105 Berkeley Street, Carlton completed during 2014.

316 La Trobe Street, Melbourne reached completion for the start of the 2015 academic year with the Urbanest-branded tower designed by DKO Architecture. At 24 levels and containing as many as 1,250 student beds 316 La Trobe Street remains one of the tallest student accommodation buildings in Melbourne.

Coupled with 105 Berkeley Street's 188 beds and the intended 628 within 599-605 Swanston Street, Urbanest will eventually control in excess of 2,000 student beds within inner Melbourne.


Bilby's picture

Facadism at its worst. What a joke given that we have two intact Victorian era hotels facing each other across the intersection. Come on, Melbourne (city of culture) - you can do so much better than this in terms of your 21st century urbanism ...

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Melbourne_Fragments's picture

Even the most pro- development person on this site won't disagree with Bilby on that one

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Aussie Steve's picture

Why bother indeed. Just pull the old building down. Not worth keeping it in this state. Reminds me of what has happened to many historic buildings in Perth. Disgusting behavior by this developer and architectural firm. Poor reflection on both.

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

The problem is that this is an isolated heritage building which is currently surrounded by the horrid Beaurepaires workshop. Also I think the proposal would look better from street level as that wide angle view really emphasises the scale of the building above.

The podium line does follow the parapet of the heritage building but the setbacks above may need some tweaking and the materials of the adjoining section of the podium could also use some refinement to better integrate the heritage building.

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Rohan Storey's picture

Would need a lot of tweaking nicholas, that is a substantial setback above, and different expression wither side, because at the moment it reads simply as two walls stuck on to much larger, rather monolithic building.

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