Covered briefly earlier in the week, Urban Melbourne today takes an in depth look at the latest and greatest proposal for The Capitol in South Yarra. Acquired by former Dodo founder Larry Kestelman's LK Property Group it becomes the seventh incarnation in a long list of development proposals for the 5,600sqm former Capitol Bakeries site on the corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street.
Located within the rapidly evolving Forrest Hill precinct the project has been designed as a gateway development and an iconic landmark for the area, with an increase in height from 41-storeys to 58-storeys. As a result a subsequent refinement was undertaken resulting in more fluid forms articulated as a series of flowing horizontal ribbons across both masses before becoming more solid with an almost gill-like expression running up the face of the tallest tower.
|Height||41-storeys 133m||58-storeys 190m, 208m to tip of spire|
|Parking||553 car spaces||630 basement car spaces 222 bicycle spaces|
|Retail||3,539sqm||4,530sqm of retail across two levels|
There is an opportunity to bring the energy and curves created in the retail experience to the facade/balcony expression of the Toorak Road building.Project Architect - Bates Smart
A series of changes have occurred since the previously endorsed VCAT scheme:
The tower now presents as three ellipses not unlike Bates Smart's Queensbridge Tower proposal but with a tapering in mass as the tower rises, becoming increasingly slender towards its summit. This results in a more dynamic skyline silhouette than the previous scheme which presented as a uniform mass. One of the key changes is the reduction of the building mass at street level with an aim towards greatly improving the pedestrian experience.
We investigated an architectural language that creates a more distinctive sculptural object that celebrates the beauty of form and geometry. A form that might allow gradual slimming of the tower to create a unique landmark that has authenticity and identity. It would be an iconic contemporary destination in South Yarra. We tested the form of the tower to create a softer, more crafted quality which is in keeping with the new retail concept.Bates Smart
Major design changes have also been made to the retail podiums since the approved VCAT scheme, with a new retail brief being implemented encouraging pedestrians through the site by way of curved retail frontages. These design strategies are as follows:
According to the planning application the retail has been peeled back to allow the street to extend into the heart of the retail podium with a welcoming entry to Chapel Street.
Just how high is considered too high? At 193m to LMR The Capitol development would easily surpass Royal Domain Towers on St Kilda road as the tallest high-rise outside of the Melbourne CBD/Southbank and provide a visual landmark and focal point to the South Yarra skyline. It would also set a precedent for more towers of similar height and scale particularly if it can be argued that South Yarra as part of the Plan Melbourne blueprint must facilitate the expected influx of residents to Melbourne via concentrated high-rise development.
Height in particular shouldn't be the core reason for a development's refusal unless it comes at the detriment to the amenity of the street and pedestrian particularly along busy retail strips such as Toorak Road and Chapel Streets. The planning report indicates that "sunlight penetration to footpaths and public open spaces is maintained as per the approved scheme, with cut-outs at the podium level (Level 1) ensuring solar access through to the retail levels below."
I don't believe I'm alone in suggesting that this could prove to be a game changer for the way activity centres such as South Yarra develop and Urban Melbourne will no doubt be keeping a close eye on the planning process.
A slideshow of earlier schemes is included below.