Hickory Building System scores another major Melbourne skyscraper

Prominent builder Hickory Group has added a third Melbourne project that will utilise the Hickory Building System (HBS). A proponent of prefabricated construction methods, Hickory Group's latest HBS-driven project will be Brisbane outfit Blue Sky Funds' 42-50 La Trobe Street.

In addition to residential projects La Trobe Tower and Collins House which have/will utilise HBS, 42-50 La Trobe Street is the first student accommodation project to do so. Hickory Group expect the build to become one of the world’s tallest student accommodation projects delivered via non-traditional construction methods.

Floor slabs, facades and Hickory’s Sync bathroom pod system will be manufactured offsite, and subsequently trucked to 42-50 La Trobe Street for final assembly.

42-50 La Trobe Street's modified heritage frontage. Image: Hickory

First entering Urban Melbourne's project database during late 2015, 42-50 La Trobe Street has seen a number of design adaptations to this point, with architecture firm Hayball the design lead.

Chief of which is the facade retention of 50 La Trobe Street, which was to have been demolished along with its neighbour under initial plans. Dated 1862, 50 La Trobe Street's retained facade will now serve as an entry point to the student accommodation project, with a public through link to connect La Trobe Street and Bell Place.

Onsite demolition is freshly completed, meaning Hickory will soon take control of the site in order to deliver the 43 level tower, with a smaller 7 level building to the rear of the site; combined they will house 783 student beds.

In line with Urban Melbourne's overview of the initial planning application, the current build will also include a ground floor café, numerous communal spaces, terraces and collaborative learning spaces, in addition to the public access laneway.

Hickory Building System's first Melbourne endeavour: La Trobe Tower

Key to the HBS construction method is the speed at which any given tower can be completed.

42-50 La Trobe Street with a gross floor area approaching 25,000sqm is slated to be delivered 8 months faster than traditional construction methods would allow, resulting in a 30% saving over conventional construction methods.

Similar to La Trobe Tower, 42-50 La Trobe Street will employ an electric crane to lift the modules into place outside of traditional work hours, minimising traffic disruption and site congestion. This will allow shotcreting during normal work hours, with the high-velocity concrete spray work essentially binding the modules together.

Between 42-50 La Trobe Street and Collins House (which will be a HBS structure above level 14), Hickory Group's innovative construction method has found its niche in the Melbourne construction landscape.


Bilby's picture

A truly egregious case heritage facadism.

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3000's picture

On the plus, we are getting rid that terrible blank wall from The Trillium, on the downside the facade is bulshit.
This will be a busy block, Conservatory going up behind it and am I right in saying that something else was meant to go next to this or the other side of the The Trillium?

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

Since the City of Melbourne refused to protect the building and issued a permit for full demolition I think it is good that the developer has at least taken the initiative to keep the facade.

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3000's picture

Interesting how you consider doing the bare minimum "initiative".

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theboynoodle's picture

I'm not sure that the blank wall isn't maybe Trillium's best side.

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Rohan Storey's picture

Im not an engineer, but I do have an architecture degree, so I cant work out how the HBS works exactly in holding up a tall building - apart from the fact that there are various prefabricated components that lock together (presumably in a watertight way, not like The Nicholson in Brunswick) so that there's good stability, but how about actually support of the tower above ? The diagrams show few vertical supports; maybe theyre mostly the shear walls / end walls / rather than a core and outer columns - but they must be thicker at the base of the building (and so not all components would then be the same, but thats okay), and as they stack up they must be very solidly connected to each other above and below and to the floor, and if so how ? bolts or steel posts that the next floor slots onto ? (stainless steel, or encased in waterproofing so they dont rust in future ?) or what ? There doesnt seem to be anything on the website like 'approved by' or 'authorised by' or tested to 50 storeys or anything like that .....cant help thinking of the english 'system built' precast of the 60s, some of which ended up structurally unsound.


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