Elenberg Fraser is the architectural partner of choice to identify a specific architectural approach that realises all of UEM's ambitions. With this project there are not multiple answers like Google, there is one true answer.
Bold assertions are best backed with bold outcomes and whilst a handful of poor quality images have been circulated of late, today we look at the full might of what may well become Melbourne's defining skyscraper. Purchased by Malaysian developer UEM Sunrise, 224-252 La Trobe Street is a 3197 sqm site opposite Melbourne Central which currently serves as a car park.
Via the work of a development team headed by Urbis and Elenberg Fraser, UEM Sunrise have been presented with a monolithic skyscraper which as the initial quote suggests, fulfills a stated UEM Sunrise ambition of "Changing the landscape of the City,"
The planning application seeks to relocate the existing Melbourne Central Station entrance from La Trobe Street to the north east corner of the site which fronts Little La Trobe Street. In doing this, Basement level 2 retail exposure is maximised, acting as a new pedestrian thoroughfare which will join with Melbourne Central's lower ground food court and station entry. The food and drink options 224-252 La Trobe Street's Basement 2 will be arranged in a hawker market theme.
Urbis notes "the basement design is subject to further input from PTV to understand the proposal’s impact upon the existing rail network and any other considerations for public transport in this area."
Four separate communal facilities are proposed, which in total equates to a healthy 2.9 sqm of communal space per apartment. Level 8 carries the main recreational level which includes spa, cold pool, indoor and outdoor pools, yoga/pilates area, gym, internal/external daybeds, gym....and the list goes on. In addition to this recreational hub, communal areas are also located at ground level which are skewed toward visitors and those transiting ground level to access the relocated station entrance.
Whilst acting as a mid tower plant/services area, Level 54 is also described as a social hub facility with dual private dining areas, an expansive westerly-facing lounge and dual sky gardens included. At 257 metres above ground, the owners club covers level 83 and includes a cinema, private dining/lounge areas, library and fireplace, kitchen, pool table and card pods which resemble faux gambling tables.
The proposal essentially consists of two concave, U-shaped towers back to back. The highly articulated tower is described as "a unique, curvilinear design response utilising a cross-style layout with undulating setbacks to each site boundary... The cross-style layout limits wind impacts and facilitates angled view lines from apartments while also limiting overlooking opportunities to surrounding development."
The back to back format negates overlooking for the most whilst sections subject to a tight concave form are addressed with vertical fins, further enhancing privacy. Given the development's girth and sheer number of dwellings, it's impressive that all apartment habitable rooms will receive direct daylight and natural ventilation in this targeted 4 star Green Star rated proposal.
Elenberg Fraser has endeavoured to mitigate wind effects by way of the tower's sculptural form. "The building responds to the prevailing wind directions encouraging the wind to flow around the building rather than being directed to ground level, thus minimising the environmental wind effects at street level." Wind amelioration zones are also included through the design to minimise the effect of down drafts whilst wind tunnel testing determined open balcony distribution, maximising usability.
Whilst tall skyscrapers are becoming all the more common it's excessively rare that a skyscraper with such immense dimensions and unique silhouette has the ability to grace Melbourne's skyline. After too many years of viewing economically prudent, rectangular 'box' buildings expanding the city's skyline, its refreshing to see a proposal of this ilk for Melbourne - a true mould breaker such as Eureka Tower when initially proposed.
Whilst I'm well and truly ensconced in this development's corner, the clean cut nature of the podium which interacts with both La Trobe and Little La Trobe could be perceived by some as bare and incohesive with the existing streetscape, a potential cause for concern? Regardless Elenberg Fraser asserts the tower is "where Melbourne finds its destiny as an international south east Asian city" - an interesting notion!