City North's latest entrant a metal monolith

The brisk rate of development immediately north of Melbourne's CBD has received another boost by way of a freshly submitted planning application for a sleek metal-clad tower fronting Haymarket roundabout.

City North as it's known is realising the aims of the 2012 City North Structure Plan, rapidly becoming a mid-rise extension of Melbourne's CBD. 1 Flemington Road now looks to become a more prominent member of this emerging skyline with plans submitted for a substantial student accommodation tower set over 22 levels.

1 Flemington Road also represents Brisbane-based Blue Sky Funds second dip into the Melbourne student accommodation sector, having gained approval last month for 42-50 La Trobe Street which includes 783 beds over 43 levels.

1-3 Flemington Road application summary

Elizabeth Street perspective. Planning image: Hayball
  • Current use: Turf Club Hotel
  • Site area: 1,011sqm
  • Proposed 22 level student accommodation tower at 68 metres
  • 453 student beds over 389 apartments: 325 x studio, 90 x 2bed, 38 x cluster
  • 595sqm of internal communal space
  • 418sqm of external open space
  • 47sqm cafe & 133sqm retail space
  • 104 bicycle bays
  • GFA: 13,599sqm
  • Estimated project cost: $40 million

The Hayball-designed tower involves an exterior consisting of standard modular panels that undulate with a variance of up to 300mm, resulting in a wave-like pattern that is repeated every 7.2 meters horizontally. Each panel's exterior consists of a charcoal anodised brushed aluminium finish that maintains a reflectivity of between 15% to 20%.

Facade perspectives. Planning image: Hayball

The sinuous footprint and undulating form combine into a facade of modular darkened metallic panels, their reflectivity catching light, shadow and colour for subtle temporal animation.

Through their composition and faceting, the façade modules reflect back the forms of the immediate locality, while seasonal weather patterns and changing light conditions colour and animate the façade.

Application design response: Hayball

1 Flemington Road adds to the surge of projects gravitating to the Haymarket roundabout. Dominated by the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Haymarket roundabout in particular is shaping as a focal point with a handful of atypically designed towers emerging.

In the wider context City North is dominated by pending residential and student accommodation projects which could see new thousands of additional dwellings added in the short to medium term.

While accommodation generally rules the roost in City North, commercial and institutional projects also get a look in. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s new mixed-use 15,722sqm headquarters at 535 Elizabeth Street is under construction and is set for completion during September 2017.

City North and a selection of current projects

1-3 Flemington Road development team

  • Developer: Blue Sky Private Real Estate Projects Pty Ltd
  • Architect: Hayball
  • Town planning: Tract Consultants
  • Traffic engineer: TTM Consulting
  • Waste management: Leigh Design
  • Sustainability: LUCID
  • Wind Engineer: VIPAC
  • Aviation consultant: TGCS Thompson


3000's picture

So I take it the Turf Club is going?

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Mark Baljak's picture

Yes it is, a retail space will go in its place.

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Bilby's picture

More facadism. When did Melbourne's planning scheme move from this being totally unacceptable to being the norm? It is a universally derided building typology - so why do it in our supposedly urbane and design focused city?

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Steve Raider's picture

What's the alternative, Bilby? If it's calling the site off-limits for any future development, how does that address the needs of a growing city?

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3000's picture

I can live with the Facadism in this case. I'm more disappointed about losing another bar/venue. Would like to see them perhaps keep the bar and build this but noise complaints or something will most likely stop that.

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Aussie Steve's picture

Oh dear.
I cannot believe what I reading above.
There is never any excuse for facadism. Ever! Developers or architects who do that gain little respect from the community and go the easy option rather than quality development respecting heritage buildings.
As for the loss if a bar! Oh dear. The building is more important to the streetscape than what us inside it, for we are advocating good design in this forum not good drinking venues!
[Roll Eyes]

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Bilby's picture

The alternative is to make a real decision - is this a building worthy of heritage protection or not? If it is, then don't turn the heritage building into a mere facade. If not - then demolish it and replace with quality contemporary architecture. Simple enough?

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3000's picture

The building itself isn't too bad. I was saying that the venue within the heritage building helped with street activation and it's sad to see another bar close. But that's the way it seems to be.
On the plus, this one might look alright once finished.

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Bilby's picture

Do you reckon? Have you seen Hayball's attempt at merging towers with heritage redevelopment at the Yorkshire Brewery?

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Aussie Steve's picture

Bilby is indeed correct when he talks about the assessment of heritage value.

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johnproctor's picture

yeah - it really wouldn't be that hard to protect more of the existing building. Would be interested to see the demolition plans from the permit application. almost certainly full demolition aside from facade.

agree on Yorkshire Bilby. horrible.

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

What is the point of protecting more of the interior of a building when the interior has no heritage value?

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johnproctor's picture

it is a reasonable question. but whats the point in retaining a facade if you aren't retaining anything else (as per Bilby's comment). part of the charm of a heritage facade is walking in and seeing more of the scars of the "original" building whether it be be as simple as the materials bricks, floorboards, ceiling roses etc. or other features like fireplaces, old or new window/door cuts into the building etc.

instead you get a facade and then something you know was never attached to it in the form of tilt slab concrete walls and finishes.

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Bilby's picture

A clear and concise explanation of the issue, Johnproctor. Little more needs to be said - facadism simply takes the principle of protecting streetscapes to its logical conclusion. However, historically the planning scheme recommended retention of at least 10 metres of the front portion of a building. Why anyone now thinks this is "acceptable" heritage practise is beyond me.

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