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Batman's Hill leaves much to be desired

Batman's Hill leaves much to be desired

Lend Lease have circulated an April newsletter for their forthcoming Batman's Hill development which outlines plans for the two commercial buildings that will front Melbourne's premier locale: Collins Street. Included within the newsletter are images of the dual commercial buildings that as of last week were submitted to State planning body DTPLI for assessment.

Upon first glance last week - and up to this point - little has changed in my opinion of these two proposed buildings.

Why 695 Collins Street disappoints

  • In isolation the design has little architectural flair, befitting of a suburban office park rather than a Collins Street address. The duplicated design offers a sheer wall effect with little visual permeability to what lies behind.
  • 700 Collins Street directly opposite and AXA at 750 Collins Street nearby are prime examples of simplistic, uninviting early Docklands designs which have been roundly criticised. A decade later and 695 Collins displays little design progression.
  • Lend Lease trumpet Sydney's Barangaroo as a "Once in a 200 year opportunity to create a bold new place to live, work and visit." If 695 Collins Street is a precursor to a 'bold' Batman's Hill precinct, we have a problem.
  • Street level finishes at this point are lacking style and substance. What seem to be odd-sized, composite panel-clad boxes lining Collins Street; they look cheap although in fairness are infinitely more active than the monstrosity that is 750 Collins Street.
Batman's Hill leaves much to be desired
Indicative Collins Street perspective. Image © Lend Lease

With a half deck covering Wurundjeri Way as envisaged below, poor old Bunjil, the 25 metre eaglehawk and Docklands sentinel will be relocated. Relocated between Towers C3 and C4 and for the most, lost out of view. I can't help but think the abbreviated deck over Wurundjeri Way has compressed the layout of the commercial buildings leading to maximising the available development envelope - in other words boxy designs fronting Collins Street with little if any setbacks.

The other aspect to note is that the C4 office tower that was expected to reach as high as 160 metres and now looks to be no more than 12 levels in height according to the above image. This pocket of Docklands is littered with boxy 10-15 level commercial buildings - one more to join the party!

Batman's Hill leaves much to be desired
Batman's Hill site overview. Image © Lend Lease

Not impressed with my assertion that 695 Collins Street as seen above is a hapless, ill conceived design? Ponder the following two designs.

Below left sees the Grocon/Mirvac/Hassell Studio concept for Batman's Hill. Aside from a signature high-rise that would define the precinct within Melbourne's skyline, Hassell's scheme carries far more open space by way of a larger deck over Wurundjeri Way and built form which is articulate yet uncluttered.

The other image below highlights ARM's ostentatious Collins Street frontage as part of their precinct design; unique, eye-catching and worthy of the address!

Batman's Hill leaves much to be desired
Images © Hassell Studio and ARM Architecture

In other words, both examples and their Collins Street frontage are precisely what Docklands requires and a polar opposite to what has been proposed.

By some miracle should the Lend Lease scheme shown above not be the intended design for 695 Collins Street, I'll be the first one to say the joke's on me. Otherwise the joke's on anyone expecting a quality outcome for an area that truly needs it!

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Discussion (2 comments)

MelbourneGuy's picture

Totally agree with you re the Lend Lease proposal. Just wondering, but do you have any chance to pass these views on to Matt Guy? LL are quite prepared to go all out on their Sydney development but at the same time will only give us a third rate proposal that is nothing but a generic, nondescript filler. How disappointing!

Laurence Dragomir's picture
I thought the initial master plan had a lot of merit to it.

The execution however is severely lacking any design nous - if C1 and C2 are proposed as depicted.

It's early days but it could be argued that Lend Lease have been awarded the site under false pretenses - promising a lot but in reality looking to deliver very little.

The reduction in height to C1 and C2 (down from 90 m) makes sense as it allows for a more pleasant public space to the south - due to improved solar access. But the supposed reduction of C4 towards the city is somewhat baffling.

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