In isolation it's a typically dashing ARM Architecture design that would provide a visual focal point in an area already heavy with architecturally dominant buildings. Yet place the freshly submitted 696-708 Elizabeth Street planning application in context and the overall picture becomes somewhat obscured.
During 2013 Jobs Australia Ltd's 696-708 Elizabeth Street site formed part of a larger development plot with intended joint partner PDG Corporation. For reasons unknown both parties chose to develop their own sites separately, which now sees PDG Corporation's Royal Elizabeth at construction under the guidance of Hamilton Marino builders.
It is of course not 696-708 Elizabeth Street's frontage to Elizabeth Street or Pelham Street which may raise eyebrows, but the close proximity it seeks to hold in relation to Royal Elizabeth, in addition to the gutting of the existing historic structure's interior.
Royal Elizabeth's project website which currently hosts a set of marketing images depicts glazed windows wrapping the exterior of the building, including seemingly to the rear of 696-708 Elizabeth Street. If these are indeed windows and integral to the design of Royal Elizabeth, they will be confronted with sheer precast walls at close proximity should 696-708 Elizabeth Street be approved.
Based in the 696-708 Elizabeth Street planning application drawing set, the Elizabeth Street frontage sees both towers flush against one another as seen below. As part of 696-708 Elizabeth Street's key planning considerations the impact to adjoining properties has been taken into account:
The proposal provides a design that is highly cognisant of its impacts on adjoining properties. Of note, is the relationship of the proposal having regard to the property to the south and east:
Extract from the Urbis Planning and Urban Context Report
- The proposal provides a scheme that is highly responsive to its neighbouring properties to the south and east which is was recently granted a permit for its development. We note that this site is located at 690 - 694 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne and forms part of the PDG 'Royal Elizabeth' Development
- The proposed development seeks to build to its southern boundary- which currently presents as series of 'green fins' when viewed along Elizabeth and Pelham Streets
- The proposal fronts a council laneway to the East. Beyond the laneway is the northern portion of the PDG development. The proposal seeks to screen windows along its eastern boundary to mitigate overlooking issues
- Having regard to the matters above, it is considered that the proposal will have little to no impact on adjoining properties
One can only assume that the northern-facing windowed facade over Royal Elizabeth adjoining the 696-708 Elizabeth Street has been scrapped?
It is proposed to demolish the internal volume and cast and south walls of the existing former bank, retaining only the street facades, a short section of corner return walls at first floor level and part of the roof structure including one chimney. Conservation works will be undertaken on the retained facades.Bryce Raworth Pty Ltd, Assessment of Heritage Impacts report
Designed by architect Peter Matthews and dating back to the 1880's, the existing building was once the Haymarket Branch of the Commercial Bank of Australasia Ltd. The classically inspired structure is a rendered brick exterior finish atop bluestone foundations, and is of heritage value.
The Planning and Urban Context Report explains that the intended tower is set as far back as possible from the existing Commercial Bank of Australia heritage building, with the existing facade restored and rejuvenated.
We recognise the significance of the existing Commercial Bank of Australia building and will work with expert heritage consultants to ensure the heritage facade will be restored and rejuvenated to its former glory. The form of the proposed tower is set as far back as possible, to allow the form of the bank some breathing room, the new build cut back to ensure that the "tailing" edges of the old bank are visible from Pelham and Elizabeth Streets.
Likewise the tower cut back reveals the roof pitch and chimney. The "Flat Iron" shape of the new tower with its sweep of the leading edge reinforces the corner, porch an idpediment of the original.ARM Architecture