Southbank by Beulah gains its design jury; should they become commonplace?

The jury for what shapes as Melbourne's largest single phase project has been announced. 

Southbank by Beulah is likely to see over 220,000 square metres of space split between hotel, residential, commercial, entertainment and technological uses. But before the $2 billion plus project can advance the process of selecting a winning design will play out.

Touted as the first major mixed-used design competition of its calibre for Melbourne, Southbank by Beulah will see seven highly credentialed individuals settle upon a winning design.

Jury panel notables include:

  • Jill Garner, Jury Chair and Victorian Government Architect
  • Marc-Heinrich Werner, CEO of BMW Group Australia
  • Prof Thomas Kvan, former Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Melbourne and the Director of Australian Urban Research Information Network
  • Cameron Bruhn, the Editorial Director of Architecture Media
  • Adelene Teh and Jiaheng Chan from Beulah International

Jill Garner is the headline appointment to the jury. She was the first female to take on the role of Victorian Government Architect and co-founded design practice Garner Davis.

She along with the balance of the jury will choose the successful design partnership that will deliver the mass-scale development of 118 City Road. The prominent 6,191 square metre site which also fronts Southbank Boulevard will see the following firms pitch to win the right to have their names associated with Southbank by Beulah:

  • Bjarke Ingels Group with Fender Katsalidis Architects
  • Coop Himmelb(l)au with Architectus
  • MAD Architects with Elenberg Fraser
  • MVRDV with Woods Bagot
  • Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) with Conrad Gargett
  • UNStudio with Cox Architecture

Comment

Beulah international's bid to bring to fruition the Southbank development by way of an invited design competition is undoubtedly a move to generate an air of prestige around the project, which is perfectly fine but it does raise a number of pertinent questions.

In light of other cities such as Sydney maintaining regular design competitions, should design competitions be mandated for all Melbourne projects over a certain value?

Is there any evidence to suggest that design competitions produce better outcomes than what architecture firms currently across Melbourne are capable of producing? Is it merely a grandiose self gesture to implement design competitions?

It could be argued that an increased number of design competitions and review panels could lift design standards for new buildings, but is this not already achieved via the standard planning channels that are arguably more rigorous across Melbourne than elsewhere.

Here in Melbourne, a design competition looks to be as much a marketing tool as a vital mechanism in the pursuit of design excellence. 

Note: Every effort is made to ensure accurate information is provided. If information is out of date, or factually incorrect, please get it touch so we can rectify. Urban accepts no liability and responsibility for any direct or indirect loss or damage which may be suffered by any recipient through relying on anything contained or omitted from our publication and platform. Opinions expressed by writers are that of the writer, and may not reflect that of Urban.