Southbank by Beulah: MAD Architects & Elenberg Fraser - The Urban Tree

Southbank by Beulah: MAD Architects & Elenberg Fraser - The Urban Tree
Southbank by Beulah: MAD Architects & Elenberg Fraser - The Urban Tree

The next entry in the "Southbank by Beulah" design competition that Urban.com.au will be putting under the spotlight is MAD Architects and Elenberg Fraser's "Urban Tree" proposal.

Rejecting the typical notion of the Melbourne skyscraper found within the central city, MAD and EF's design instead favours an organic design which introduces a silhouette of natural forms – mountain, tree and cloud – into a dense urban environment.

According to the architects, the Urban Tree provides a distinct and iconic scheme for the Melbourne skyline, and one which celebrates Melbourne's parks and gardens by allowing citizens to connect with nature.

The design was informed by carefully studying the tower’s site and composition, and rather than maxing out the planning envelope, instead proposes a single tower strategy to avoid over-crowding and to maintain and allow sightlines from the surrounding high-rises while also maximizing the views from the residential and hotel programs on the upper floors.

Southbank by Beulah: MAD Architects & Elenberg Fraser - The Urban Tree
The podium is envisaged as a 'mountain village'. Image: MAD Architects and Elenberg Fraser

The future of our cities needs to have an emotional connection between humanity and nature.

Urban Tree will feature small, green foothills that lead pedestrians up to the ‘mountain village’, with amenities along Southbank Boulevard including a children’s playground, public artwork and a water feature.

- Ma Yansong, Founder & Principal Partner, MAD Architects

The podium is envisaged as a ‘mountain village’, with the typical massing of a retail/mall space reduced and a more intimate human-scale introduced. 

The urban spaces are stacked vertically and landscaped with lush green walls and trees to give visitors and residents alike, the feeling that they are in nature, rather than in the middle of a dense urban environment.

The tower rises up out of the mountain village like a tree, to a maximum height of 360m - hence the Urban Tree moniker.

Clad in transparent glass, it employs an innovative Glulam timber façade structure that mimics tree roots twisting upwards, reinforcing the tower’s organic shape. Sky gardens are interspersed throughout that vertically extend the urban green up the height of the tower.

The pinnacle of the tower is ‘the cloud’ - a cantilevered structure that accommodates the public amenities for the hotel including lobby, restaurant, bar, and observation deck, and offering expansive and all-encompassing views of Melbourne.

Composed of an ETFE membrane façade, it is lightweight and features varying degrees of transparency. Towards the edges, ‘the cloud’ becomes translucent, emulating a real cloud so that it gives the sensation of air and lightness, becoming a blur as it blends into the sky.

Southbank by Beulah: MAD Architects & Elenberg Fraser - The Urban Tree
The Urban Tree will be topped at its pinnacle with 'the cloud' housing public amenities. Image: MAD Architects and Elenberg Fraser

At street level, the tower maintains a cohesive design language drawing on and responding to the Southbank Boulevard transformation project.

The design team have proposed an inviting plaza landscape that integrates urban activation spaces, and revitalizes the street level in a way that encourages people to gather and linger. Conceived as a series of small, green foothills that lead pedestrians up to the ‘mountain village’, the scheme seeks to link the ground plane to the building.

MAD and EF introduce nature into the urban context, by remodelling the typical high-rises typically found in cities.

Materializing as a ‘mountain in the city’, the design establishes open connections between the interior and exterior spaces in the form of large terraces, gardens, and public art zones.

The winning design for the “Southbank by Beulah” competition will be announced on August 8th, 2018.

Laurence Dragomir

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.

Tags: 
Southbank by Beulah Southbank 118 City Road MAD Architects Elenberg Fraser Urban Tree Beulah International

Comments

Be the first one to comment on this article
What would you like to say about this project?