The 4 Step > 695-699 La Trobe Street

The 4 Step > 695-699 La Trobe Street
695-699 La Trobe Street. © FKA

Editor's note: all images and information included below were extracted from a pre-application submission lodged in March 2013.

The subject of today's article is a proposal for a residential tower on a prominent docklands site. Acquired by Salta Properties back in December 2008, the site sits on the corner of Harbour Esplanade and provides an opportunity for a major contribution to the Esplanade and as an entry statement for docklands.

Engaging Fender Katsalidis during 2010, the team initially produced a 36-storey mixed-use scheme that had a number of features recognizable in previous FKA-designed projects. A glazed residential tower with a tiered envelope that sat upon a commercial wrap around a carpark podium - providing a bookend to Victoria Point to the south. The proposal was lodged and was to be Salta's signature docklands project but ultimately never saw the light of day.

An article from The Age briefly touching on the proposal can be seen below:

The 4 Step > 695-699 La Trobe Street
Commercial property article. © Fairfax

Fast forward three years and a shorter design has been put on the table that has significantly deviated from the language of the previous proposal. Expressed as a series of staggered volumes the new scheme looks to limit the amount of overshadowing across the Etihad Stadium playing turf. Changes between the two designs are described below:

Previous vs Current Scheme

Aspect Previous Current
Height 124.3m Stepped from 78.05m
No. floors 36 storeys Stepped from 23 storeys
Apartments 336 Approx. 303
Parking 338 Approx. 309
Commercial 3,896m2 Approx. 2,114m2
Retail 598m2 Approx. 674m2
GFA 49,669m2 Approx. 41,941m2

The submission focuses heavily on the merits of the proposal's ground plane condition with retail tenancies located to the north and south, interspersed with lobbies for the commercial and residential components. Featuring strong vertical timber column and blade elements, the design provides a contrast to the otherwise concrete and glazed structure.

Vehicular entries to the car park and loading dock are located along the eastern boundary while a public thoroughfare separates the proposal from the existing Channel 7 digital broadcast centre.

The 4 Step > 695-699 La Trobe Street
Rendered ground plane. © FKA


One suspects that Salta will most likely follow the lead of Charter Hall and Flagship Property Holdings and look to offload the site. At time of writing the site next door at 685 La Trobe Street is currently under contract.

The potential for a far more ambitious scheme would be most welcome for a site that demands something special. I'm of the opinion that an amalgamation of the two sites would offer the best outcome for the site and allow for a more successful interface and relationship between potentially multiple buildings.

If the scheme as detailed above is to proceed then I believe a further level of design refinement is required.

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.

Docklands Fender Katsalidis Salta Property Group

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