The versatility of precast panels

After observing Melbourne's built form growth over the last decade or so certain trends become evident where progress is made (generally for the better) and the public realm is all the better for it.  Think precast concrete panels and the first thing that comes to mind may well be the sheer edifices that many of Melbourne buildings employ where a common boundary is present.  As ugly and uninviting as they are, these precast walls are necessary but also give a negative connotation, precast walls = poor design.

Well, that's not always the case.  With improved technology and shifting mindsets, the humble precast panel has become far more integral to a building's design and appearance of late. The use of stylised precast panels has increased considerably owing to the ease and cost savings the medium offers.

One of the more interesting and recognisable buildings in recent years is Hive Apartments located in Carlton.  Seemingly the topic of endless online articles, the building's external centrepiece is a precast panel that as seen below has the ability to capture the attention of any passerby.  Euro Precast's website description reads as follows:

"An exterior feature of the apartment is the word “HIVE” which is graffiti inspired and made out of precast.  The word Hive was pre made in the factory and then transported to site and installed before most of the renovations of the apartment took place. Concrete panel walls with unusual design and cut outs also complete this award winning apartment. A beautiful example of public art."

See below a selection of Melbourne's more interesting buildings that rely upon precast panels to make an architectural statement.  It's by no means a definitive list but it does give an indication as to how the use of precast has evolved and where the future of the material lies; a more interesting, expressive building element that's far more engaging with the public realm.  Click an image for a larger view.

 

Ambient Carlton, designed by ARM Architecture

Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 12:00
When a site spans 19,280 square metres, it becomes a 'district'. That's the case according to the development team behind the Jam Factory's pending overhaul. Reporting on the project to date has focused on the close to 60,000 square metres of new commercial space that is earmarked for the site, but more importantly from a layperson's perspective is the extensive new public realm that is planned as part of the development.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.