The City of Melbourne's Future Melbourne (Planning) Committee last Tuesday met to consider the planning application for Mirvac's 40-storey office complex at 477 Collins Street. Council resolved to notify the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) of its support for the Grimshaw-designed tower - subject to proposed modifications to the loading/unloading arrangements and the Flinders Lane podium façade treatment - to be addressed via recommended conditions on the planning permit:
The proposed built form including building height and setbacks are appropriate in this context. The proposed setbacks are adequate for an office development and will provide sufficient separation from adjoining properties, Flinders Lane and to the exiting heritage buildings facing Collins Street.
Furthermore, the development has been designed to avoid any overshadowing of the south bank of the Yarra River and will fall with existing shadows over the north bank of the Yarra River.Future Melbourne Committee
The existing commercial car park presents a very poor interface to Flinders Lane and whilst the development is an improvement through the introduction of active uses at ground and mezzanine levels, when viewed from Flinders Lane it presents as a car park partially screened by vertical twisting steel louvers. Additional activation/visual interest should be introduced into the façade to increase interest and provide an integrated design that is consistent with the preferred built form direction.
This can be achieved by introducing a casing of active uses (dwelling, office, etc.) or an active façade treatment such as a green wall or art.Future Melbourne Committee
The current plans propose ground level glazed shop front-type facades to provide improved permeability: rising to a height of two storeys, bookended by two glazed staircases which provide glimpses of visual activity. The car park levels were proposed to be visually concealed via a screen consisting of vertical perforated metal blades which would also animate an otherwise static facade and provide visual interest.
The development would join a host of other skyscrapers either under construction or on the horizon in the immediate area, namely Collins House, 568 Collins Street, 567 Collins Street, and the taller 555 Collins Street and 447 Collins Street developments which are both seeking exemptions from overshadowing Southbank. 477 Collins would become the tallest commercial tower to be built in the west end of Melbourne's CBD in the 2000's.
With support from council under its belt, final approval from Planning Minister Richard Wynne shouldn't be too far off.