“Unlike anything else in the grid” – Collins Arch public space and a building without roofs

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A new, tree-lined public park1 on Market Street connected to the development’s publicly accessible and occupiable space via a large amphitheatre are key elements in the blueprint to transform an entire city block into a highly charged urban precinct activated to its core day and night.

Construction of the interconnected 164-metre dual towers – whose footprint will occupy less than the public open space – is more than mid-way and on track for completion in late 2019.

Inspecting the progress on site last week with SHoP Architects founding principal Bill Sharples, Woods Bagot principal Kate Frear says the building’s ambitious program – 184 apartments, a new five-star hotel to be operated by W Hotel, 49,447 square metres of WELL-rated offices and 950 square metres of ground floor retail – has been addressed through the composition of the vertical stacking.

“We’ve optimised each floor plate and each typology to emancipate half of the site back to the city as public open space,” said Frear. “Through a huge engineering feat, we’ve unified the program which ties the whole scheme together and enables all-important sunlight to reach deeply into the site and into the building,” Frear said.

“The public space is defined by how people will move through the building, and from the top down. The building program at ground level completely informs what happens above,” she said.

Critically, there are no roofs apparent in the building, only terraces. From the open crown at the apex, the building cascades down as a series of spectacular, stepped terraces allowing for most of the building program to be habitable by humans or plants.

Frear credited the collaboration with SHoP Architects and the courage of Cbus Property and ISPT for the Collins Arch development to so successfully connect Melbourne to special opens spaces and gardens. 

SHoP Architects Bill Sharples is confident Collins Arch will play a critical role in reconnecting the Melbourne CBD to the Yarra River and Southbank.

“Using the combined knowledge of what our studios have learned from work in cities around the world, we are creating the first true mixed-use building in Australia, with greatly expanded public spaces to be enjoyed by Melbourne’s residents. Collins Arch will help complete the transformation of the surrounding area into a vibrant urban community, further contributing to the city’s world-class image,” Sharples said.

Comprising a whole city block of Melbourne’s central business district, Collins Arch creates a new epicentre, linking Collins Street to a network of dynamic spaces back to the Yarra River. The project demonstrates how an under-utilised part of the city can be transformed into an internationally significant precinct that activates the central core with a 24-hour life.

“Collins Arch is a world-class project and our design collaboration with internationally regarded design teams, Woods Bagot and SHoP Architects, has enabled us to create a truly unique project for a future focused Australian city,” said Adrian Pozzo, CEO of Cbus Property.

Increasing connectivity, activating the western grid of Melbourne CBD’s and creating a globally renowned destination for one of the world’s most liveable cities were key drivers in the design process. With striking dual towers connected by a sky bridge, the form of Collins Arch will be instantly recognisable and have a significant place on Melbourne’s skyline.

Project details

  • Architect: Woods Bagot and SHoP Architects 
  • Landscape Architect: Oculus
  • Engineer: 4D Workshop
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
  • Client: Cbus Property and ISPT
  • Cost: AUD 1.3b
  • Status: Under construction 
  • Scope: Architecture, Interior Design
  • Mixed use program: Residential, hotel, commercial office, retail, public open space
  1. The new park of 1,900-square metres comprises City of Melbourne land and a portion of land contributed by Cbus Property and ISPT. Cbus Property and ISPT are contributing to the development of the park, which will be vested back to the City of Melbourne for public use and management.

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