A Sister Act: 839-899 Collins Street, Victoria Harbour

A Sister Act: 839-899 Collins Street, Victoria Harbour
Laurence DragomirMay 6, 2015

When the first images of 889 Collins Street surfaced, eagle-eyed readers would have noticed a second identical set of towers in the background. Having initially brushed it off as artistic license to populate a render I was surprised to learn that the development would in fact consist of four overall towers or two sets of twin towers along the north bank of Victoria Harbour.

A Sister Act: 839-899 Collins Street, Victoria Harbour
Aerial of sites within Victoria Harbour. © City of Melbourne

Designed by Sydney-based architect Koichi Takada, the project has gained support in the last week via City of Melbourne's Future (Planning) Committee; the final remaining hurdle is now approval from the Planning Minister's office prior to Y4 & Y5/Y6 (seen in the above graphic) officially commencing.

The southern set of towers will be 75.9 metres in height while the northern pair will reach 93.6 metres, with their respective podia rising to heights of 19.5m. The pairing of towers will be such that each podium will accommodate one 30-storey and one 24-storey tower. This variance in height is intended to give the Docklands skyline a more dramatic silhouette than if the towers were to have been paired by common height.

The elevations are well designed and articulated. All elevations of the towers and podia feature glazing of various types, balconies and timber or masonry finishes to balconies at podium levels, which will serve to create a visually interesting facade. Plant and lift motor rooms are fully screened.

The towers will be worthy additions to the Docklands skyline.

City Of Melbourne Future Committee Report
A Sister Act: 839-899 Collins Street, Victoria Harbour
Height variance and facade articulation. Image © Koichi Takada Architects

All four towers have the same articulation and a consistent material palette whereby the main elevations respond to city context and river context which is expressed and reflected in the choice of materials. The spandrel bands which wrap around the podium levels employ a rich textured palette of brick and timber drawing references to the site's maritime history (which has been lacking in Docklands so far) and presents somewhat of a departure from the typical materials which adorn some of the other apartment buildings.

The tower sections feature bands of fritted glazing of various levels of opacity and colour, which create a distinct rippled patternation across the facades while also providing the impression of a horizontal movement. This in turn creates a kinetic quality, reinforced by the various reflections of water, city and sky throughout the day.

Likened to "the strong, billowing effect" of sails in the wind, the fritted bands vary from the reddish tone of the brick to the silver tone of the weathered timber.

A Sister Act: 839-899 Collins Street, Victoria Harbour
Podium materiality and texture. Image © Koichi Takada Architects

Interestingly site Y4 originally carried approval for a 9-storey office development designed by Bates Smart with 875 Collins Street as its address. Similarly it is expected that the DCM-designed office tower at 839 Collins Street will be replaced by a $250 million hotel and apartment development for which Lend Lease have put to the market via an open bidding process.

This follows Lend Lease's unsuccessful attempts to secure tenants for both commercial projects before proceeding with construction. This change in strategy has largely been attributed to the strong demand for apartments both from local and overseas purchasers.

Stage One, known more formally as 889 Collins Street, is due to commence construction this month pending final approval with a completion date of June 2017 forecast.

Project briefs

  • Project value: $600 million
  • Four towers: 1,070 apartments
  • Stage One: 1 x 30-storey + 1 x 24-storey, 539 apartments - 208 x 1BR, 295 x 2BR. 28 x 3BR
  • Stage Two: 1 x 30-storey + 1 x 24-storey, 531 apartments - 218 x 1BR. 293 x 2BR. 28 x 3BR
  • Car parking 748 spaces over 6 levels across both podiums
  • 371 bicycle spaces
  • SOHO wrap of apartments to podiums to activate facades
  • Landscaped rooftop to podiums
  • 1499sqm of commercial retail

Project team

  • Developer: Lend Lease
  • Architect: Koichi Takada Architects
  • Planning Consultant: Contour Consulting
  • Waste Management: Leigh Design
  • Wind Consultant: MEL Consultants

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.

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