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City of Melbourne provides conditional support for Southbank high-rise

During its monthly meeting on Tuesday night, the City of Melbourne's Future Melbourne (Planning Committee) has resolved to provide its support for a 48-storey tower at 56-62 Clarendon Street. The current Europcar car hire and workshop on site will be replaced by a 161m tower accommodating 208 apartments and 128 serviced apartments atop a six storey podium.

The site has previously had approval for a silver Elenberg Fraser designed tower from 2013 with an extension of time to commence construction lapsing in May of this year.

Car parking will be via a stacker system on levels 1 to 6, with access provided from the laneway adjacent to the site’s northern boundary. The parking levels will be wrapped in a sleeve of studio apartments along Clarendon Street and the adjacent laneway with a ground floor cafe. 

The tower, which has a plot ratio of 22.6:1 is characterised by its slim glazed form with a recessed golden ribbon element dissecting the form into a series of irregularly shaped stacked forms, as it rises up its full height, culminating in a blade roof feature punctured by a series of large openings. 

We acknowledge some effort has been made to exaggerate the applied linework to the façade to provide some depth and segmentation. Further, subtle elevation changes exaggerate this sense of a series of stacked forms. We appreciate the increased setbacks to the rear interface with 46 Haig Street to address previous advice; however we recommend a green roof / planter component to this component of the podium to address the outlook of residents.

- City of Melbourne's Urban Design team

    One of the major changes to the design has been the relocation of the lift and services core from the more prominent northern elevation to the southern wall which will be opposite another development site.

    Additionally the podium has had further visual elements incorporated into its design such as V shaped support structure and a textured treatment of off form ribbed concrete upstands to balconies bookended by glazed balustrades. 

    Greater permeability has been provided with additional portholes along the north eastern corner and activation to the ground floor.

    Before and after. A number of changes have been adopted to the design. Images: Fender Katsalidis

    Further suggested changes and resolution to the design of the podium to "achieve a coherent, strong streetscape interface" include:

    • Ensure that elements of the podium treatment wrap to the side elevation to provide a more coherent treatment. For example, the use of the applied metal ring could relate to the materiality of balustrades for providing some continuity. [There is a strong preference for] a high-quality materiality response over a coarse gesture.
    • [There is] still concerned with the unresolved nature of the V elements. Whilst there have seen similar elements used to great success in a landscape setting (garden beds etc such as across the road in Metropol) they have a poor relationship to the human scale and terrace element. They currently obscure views from the terrace, but also fail to provide intimacy and enclosure to the raised space. This space should be resolved in more detail at 1:20.
    • Ensure that the ramp is designed effectively as a transition zone that connects the internal programming with the public realm but also provides a high-quality space for outdoor seating. The renders and drawings are not sufficient to describe this building interface as anything other than an arrival space.
    • Include a subtle human-scaled micro canopy element (max 200mm) over the laneway that is integrated with the architectural language of the building. This should reinforce the ground level datum through a shadow line from the first floor, and mark a shift in materiality to a higher quality, more pedestrian-oriented finish (such as tiles, brick, timber, etc).
    • Exclude all paint finished precast concrete from the lower levels of the podium fronting onto the laneway and ensure that all materials and detailing is to a high standard in response to a pedestrian scale. Resolve service doors / cabinets within this element as ‘key moments’ consistent with the evolving language of the shop fronts to Clarendon Street.

    These suggested changes might be included as part of the planning permit conditions.

    The application was considered under the former interim planning controls of Amendment C262 which requires:

    • A podium height up to 40.0 metres;
    • Street setbacks of 5.0 metres above the podium;
    • Tower setbacks to all boundaries, excluding streets, equal to 5% of the overall building height for buildings in excess of 100 metres in height; and
    • A site plot ratio of 24:1.

    The proposed development, should it receive Ministerial approval would join a number of other towers either under construction or mooted for this stretch of Clarendon Street such as BPM's Shadow Play and Pepper's Southbank, designed by Elenberg Fraser and Bruce Henderson Architects respectively.

    BPM's under construction ShadowPlay and Peppers Southbank. Images: redden and BHA
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