A joint submission from Cox Architecture and Dutch practice UNStudio has taken out developer Beulah International’s design competition for a $2 billion mixed-use skyscraper on the BMW site at Southbank in Melbourne.

The proposed twin-building development – for which approval will still need to be sought – will feature Australia’s tallest tower yet, a residential skyscraper reaching 356.2 metres.

Named Green Spine, the two twisting wood-heavy buildings feature green-studded balconies and publicly accessible garden terraces. Apart from the residential tower, the second 252-metre tower will feature a hotel and commercial space, and there will be a connecting podium containing a retail and entertainment precinct.

Atelier Ten was appointed sustainability and wellbeing consultant for the project, with the company revealing on its website that the residential tower could be benchmarked to Passive House standards, which if achieved would make the project the largest Passive House development in the world.

The rest of the development will also be striving for high sustainability standards, with Atelier Ten setting benchmarks of 6 Star NABERS for the office space, WELL Building Standard for the hotel and 5 Star NABERS for the podium.

Atelier Ten was contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline.

Atelier Ten’s sustainability benchmarks

Beulah International executive director Adelene Teh, daughter of Malaysian property developer Datuk Teh Kean Ming, said the multidisciplinary collaboration had delivered a “bold” result.

“At the macro scale, the two-tower silhouettes with twisting forms provide a new, site-responsive and elegant visual beacon in the precinct,” Ms Teh said.

“In its details, the scheme displays a strong intent for well-considered public and private amenity, and at street level, the proposal displays qualities that will truly transform the public realm by eroding the hard edges that is prevalent in Southbank.”

Cox Architecture director Phil Rowe said the inclusion of green space was key to the development.

“For all of Melbourne’s much-admired built environment, which at its best effortlessly blends both heritage and modernity, it is actually our public spaces and civic infrastructure that makes Melbourne ‘Melbourne’,” he said.

Green Spine

“Our green spaces are key to this. They are our city’s lungs, its shade from the sun and our verdant green. As Melbourne grows to become Australia’s biggest city these timeless features must be retained, nurtured and allowed to grow with the city … and that is the driving idea behind the Green Spine.”

UNStudio founder and principal architect Ben van Berkel said he was “delighted” the project had been selected as winner from a tough pack of six finalists.

“For our proposal to be selected by Beulah – such a forward-focussed developer – and from entries by such an exceptional group of our peers is a true honour,” he said.

“From the outset we worked with a fantastic team of cultural placemakers, sustainability consultants, landscape designers, artists and engineers to achieve a fully integrated design. This truly is a great result for everybody involved!”

Other Green Spine team members include:

  • Future City, London: cultural placemaking
  • Studio Drift, Amsterdam: lead artist
  • Grant Associates: landscape architects
  • GTA Consultants: traffic and accessibility
  • Arup, Melbourne: engineering

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  1. Looks pretty amazing. It will be great to see this project progress! Is it to be mostly made of wood? We’ve been noting the trends of how a lot of new buildings are using more plants, and timber.

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  3. Probably bollocks but very pretty. Would be interested to see some serious analysis on wind patterns rather than pretty diagrams. Plants will wind burn, too much shading on other aspects, the twist is obviously a gimmick. But really,congratulations a million dollar contract