2 Riverside Quay as viewed from north of the Yarra.© Fender Katsalidis.

On the bright side > 2 Riverside Quay, Southbank

Last month developer Mirvac lodged an application to build a 14 level office building atop its existing 8-storey car parking garage at 2 Riverside Quay. Designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects, the new structure would rise an additional 51.5m for an overall height of 78m to roof.

While not the most architecturally adventurous design, the proposed building (rightly or wrongly) doesn't look out of place amongst its older, shorter siblings fronting the promenade. Unfortunately I can't help but think suburban office park when I look at the renders.

On the bright side, however, it will go some way to helping enliven an otherwise barren area with provision for a considerably improved public realm. I will be focusing on the merits of the ground level aspect (pardon the pun, but not really) of the proposal first before taking a closer look at the office building.

Central to the vision, is the strategy to deliver a reconfigured destinational public space to the East of the existing carpark and to create a new urban space for Southbank, Riverside Square.

By embedding a range of programs which respond to a wide range of users, Riverside Quay will be an exemplar of public placemaking. The strategy for the precinct is to deliver a series of ‘public spaces’ as a staged process, with Riverside Square being the first step and the laneways and intersecting public spaces to follow.

Mirvac are proposing to deliver the ASPECT Studio's designed masterplan in partnership with the City of Melbourne, with the design approach centred on the following key themes and intentions/motivations:

  • Draw People In: An invitation to draw people into a stimulating and intimate experience - connected with Eureka Skydeck, Southgate, the promenade and the broader Southbank neighbourhood.
  • Sequence of Public Rooms: A choice of activities and ambiences that appeal to many people at all times of the day and year, including significant residential, family, worker and visitor populations.
  • Animated, Fine Grained & Human Centred Design: Provide ample opportunities for people to linger, recreate and converse in comfortable and engaging outdoor spaces.
  • Easy Connections: A precinct wide understanding of context has informed our approach to the Riverside Quay Reserve area, including important links to Eureka tower and Southbank (east, west and south) and Promenade

As the preceding images illustrate, the look and feel of what is an otherwise dead space favoured by skateboarders, is set for a significant transformation. Where previously visitors would pass through the on their way to somewhere more interesting and inviting, they will now be encouraged to stop and engage with the area.

This is all however subject to further negotiations between Mirvac and City of Melbourne, but thankfully the intent is present as it's a great opportunity to hugely improve a underutilised public space mere metres from the Yarra. My only concern is the amount of sunlight the square will actually receive, particularly in the cooler months as demonstrated in the shadow analysis below.

The 20,000sqm development is targeting a 5-star Green Star & 4.5 Star NABERS Energy rating through initiatives such as rainwater collection, water sensitive urban design, sustainable material selection, solar orientation and a host of other measures. Level 9 above the existing structure will house plant services and a significant new cyclist end of trip facility including 202 bicycle spaces, 10 male showers, 8 female showers to be accessed via a dedicated bike lift.

Kitchen facilities, a large rooftop pavilion and landscaped deck sit atop level 21. A new retail tenancy and office lobby are located along the eastern frontage connecting out to Riverside Square.

Additionally a new veil in the form of an art commission is proposed to conceal the existing parking structure's north and south facades. 32 parking spaces will be removed in order to accommodate the new service and facilities associated with the development above.

Positives for mine centre around contributions to the streetscape and ground plane, whilst adding another layer or 'step' into taller structures deeper into Southbank - I look forward to seeing how this vision is delivered.

Overall despite some weaknesses, visually, the development promises to be a significant improvement on what is currently there.

Project team

Developer
Mirvac
Architect
Fender Katsalidis Architects
Landscape Architect
ASPECT Studios
Planning
Urbis
ESD
Umow Lai
Traffic
Cardno
Waste Management
Wastech
Wind Assessment
MEL Consultants
2 Riverside Quay amongst the giants. © Laurence Dragomir
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