Design for the tower at 70 Southbank Boulevard

26 June 2014 — The Victorian Government has given the green light to a “super tall” building that will be the biggest in the southern hemisphere.

The $900 million, 100-level tower at 70 Southbank Boulevard, is one of three new skyscrapers today (Thursday) approved for the city that will collectively house about 4000 people when completed and will be among nearly 20 new towers under way in the CBD.

The tallest of the three is Australia 108, a 319-metre tower designed by Fender Katsalidis, for Singapore’s World Class Land, a division of Aspial, which purchased the site in December 2013 from a development consortium that included architect Nonda Katsalidis and developer Benni Aroni for $42.3 million.

The new tower proposal comprises 1105 apartments over 80 levels, two levels of high-end residents-only amenities at levels 70 and 71 and a podium with car parking, retail and amenities including a 25-metre lap pool and cinema.

Project architect Nonda Katsalidis told The Fifth Estate that it is the fourth or fifth scheme he has designed for the site.

Previous schemes have included a 40 level tower, a 70 level tower and a 388-metre tower that was shelved due to concerns around conflicts with airspace.

“Things have a habit of changing,” Mr Katsalidis said. “There is a process of testing ideas, and research and development.”

NDY has been appointed sustainability consultant, and has developed the project sustainability strategy submitted with the planning application. A spokeswoman told The Fifth Estate the company will have an ongoing role.

Mr Katsalidis said the tower will be heavily insulated and use high-performance glazing in the interests of energy efficiency. Energy-efficient lighting and natural ventilation will also be incorporated, with operable windows like the neighbouring Eureka Tower, which he also designed.

However, natural cross ventilation will not be possible for many apartments due to the interplay between the floorplates and what will be an extremely large central core to support the load of the building. Mr Katsalidis said this is unlikely to be an issue, as “it’s pretty breezy up there, so opening a window will give good ventilation”.

Other possible measures, such as the installation of regenerative drive lifts will come down to the developer’s budget and preferences, he said.

“We are in talks with lift companies at the moment. The lifts are going to need to be extremely fast – around three floors a second,” he said.

The podium level car park design features walkable garden beds “the size of a small bedroom” planted with phoenix palms. Extensive consultation has been undertaken with landscape engineers and architects to develop this concept, so the gardens can “float” around the building.

The design of the entire project is pitched at the prestige market, with a starburst shape 210 metres above the ground at the 70th and 71st floors, which will offer resident-only amenities including two infinity pools, a library, private dining areas, fitness centres, two gymnasiums and club lounges. The penthouse at the very top of the building occupies the entire floor, and will have a usable floor area of 750 square metres.

Asked if there has been any thought of adding solar panels for hot water or other renewable energy elements, Mr Katsalidis said, “I think solar is a token effort on tall buildings, like wind turbines. The Melbourne City Council has those wind turbines on the top of the building, and you never see them moving. This kind of thing does neither technology any favours.

“We should be plugging into the thousands of solar panels going in at Broken Hill, which are going to be feeding into the grid. I think these things should be done on a big scale.”

In terms of indoor air quality, Katsalidis said the practice does generally look to minimise VOC emissions, particularly from outgassing by chipboard and laminates, when specifying materials.

Aspial chief executive Koh Wee Seng said the tower will redefine luxury living.

“We are extremely proud to be able to deliver such a landmark project in Melbourne, where we see a great appetite for luxury apartment living,” Mr Koh said.

“We believe this building will play a major role in showcasing Melbourne as a world-class city and leader in modern architecture.”

The tower will be going to market in January 2015, and plans are underway for the construction of a display suite. The uppermost levels, above the star, will have bespoke interiors, with buyers of those 170 apartments able to select one of two international interior designers who will be working on the project.

Construction is due to commence in mid-2015 and will be completed over three stages.

Higher density welcomed…

According to Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy all three new towers will be within walking distance of rail, trams, jobs, entertainment and open space.

“Melbourne is the world’s most liveable city. These new buildings will cater for those choosing to live in our exciting, vibrant CBD area, which is fast on track to being the first truly 24 hour city centre in Australia,” Mr Guy said.

“Importantly, central Melbourne is the right place for high density, high rise living. It has fantastic services, culture, employment opportunities, excellent public transport access, and is the most walkable city in the country. Building more apartments in the city takes population pressure off quieter suburban areas.”

Approval was also given for a 75-storey apartment tower at 452 Elizabeth Street, with 75 storeys, reaching 241 metres – 10 metres less than the Rialto – and including 622 apartments.

A third tower at 84-90 Queensbridge St, Southbank, will have 54 storeys, reaching 185 metres, with 295 apartments.

…but not by all

Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee told The Age that Mr Guy, by approving so many skyscrapers so quickly for Melbourne’s CBD, was displaying “a complete disregard for the impact these developments are going to have” over a 15 or 20 year period.

“Every CBD site isn’t an opportunity to put a tall tower on it. I have an old fashioned view that we should plan these things … so we don’t end up with wind tunnels and we maintain a vibrant city.”

There is growing concern about the number of highrise residential towers approved in Melbourne’s CBD, with Melbourne City Council recently releasing a housing report noting the lack of laws in Victoria governing how apartments must be designed, beyond the National Construction Code.

A set of apartment design standards is being developed by the the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, and Mr Guy has said he is committed to enforcing them.    Read the whole story

— with Tina Perinotto

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  1. This is a city not a country town!! What do you expect? Expect growth in population and buildings going up higher…. Melbourne has grown up over the years and can cope very well with growth in many ways. Those who want a smaller Melbourne and can’t handle growth, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart and Darwin would be just right for them to live in!!!! Looking at Melbourne’s skyline to me shows a city of maturity and prosperity and endless development with opportunity!! All my international friends have nothing but amazement for this city of the 21st century!…. Keep growing Melbourne. You can do it!!


  3. Great another tower to massage someone’s egotistical phallic fantasy! With every tower the City becomes more unsustainable, unliveable and ugly. Save us please!!

  4. Why.?

    I will ask again like on all the other design forums. Will somebody tell me at what height can you build a sustainable urban community.

    This is a design proposed by men and designed by men and approved by men . Do I need to say any more.

    We have to start designing, constructing & financing sustainable urban COMMUNITIES. And I mean SUSTAINABLE ones that are vibrant, resilient and healthy.

  5. It is of course a ridiculous proposition. Skyscrapers are white elephants in the making. Because our resource base and oil supplies come to their affordable end our whole society is going to have to change direction. No more growth! Only decline will soon be our future.
    The whole planet is binging on debt and has been for 40 years.
    It’s mathematically fanciful to expect continuous growth in a finite world.
    We need to start rethinking our future and skyscrapers are no part of it. They will be unserviceable, unihabitable, unnecessary relics of a spendthrift past.