Foreshadowed in an article earlier this year highlighting the exploits of Plus Architecture, one of the firm's most recent schemes has landed with City of Stonnington during early March and is now on public display. Currently a nondescript dual level commercial complex somewhat out of place as opposed to its nineteenth and early twentieth century neighbours, 402-416 Chapel Street is designed to be a 12 level mixed-use development holding prime position on the sought-after retail and entertainment strip.
Holding 75 metres of frontage to Chapel Street and bound by Simmons Street, Bray Street and Grey Street, the island site is one of only two large-scale plots capable of accommodating a significant development along Chapel Street; the other cited within planning documents as the Jam Factory. Subject to a preferred height limit of 19 metres, 402-416 Chapel Street weighs in at double Stonnington's preference, yet the non mandatory height guideline provides scope for a larger structure onsite.
As can be seen above the Chapel Plaza complex onsite contains very little architectural merit and as such lends itself to replacement. Chapel Plaza is included within a general heritage overlay covering the wider Chapel Street Precinct, but the site itself has no heritage value.
Consequently the attached heritage assessment focuses on the development's place within a larger Chapel Street context, which is summarised below:
The proposal will remove an ungraded late-twentieth century building of no architectural, aesthetic or historic value to the HO126 Chapel Street Precinct. On this basis, the removal of this building is acceptable from a heritage perspective.
The proposal is consistent with Council heritage policy to enhance places of cultural significance. It is also consistent with policy that new works should not adversely affect heritage places. The mixed-use development is designed in accordance with strategies and objectives of the ‘Chapel Vision’ and ‘Chapel re-Vision’ structure plans, by maintaining this street’s role as a premier commercial and entertainment district in Melbourne, but balanced with retaining the street’s established heritage character.Peter Andrew Barrett, architectural conservation consultant
This assertion on building scale and impact upon surrounding areas is further backed by the following statement:
The built form controls, as worded, are ‘preferred’ and are not mandatory controls. The proposal is considered capable of satisfying the design objectives and built form outcomes prescribed by the Design and Development Overlay without meeting all of its prescriptive controls.
The development has been designed in distinct components with a composition that is complex and varied. This includes a base podium, which is addressed to Chapel Street. A mid-rise element to six storeys and a high-rise tower that through orientation and recessing provides the appearance of two separate structures.SJB Planning, 402-416 Chapel Street planning report
Considering the sizeable girth and height of 402-416 Chapel Street, Plus Architecture have sought to refine the considerable street frontage via a number of differing means. A balance between consistency and variation in finishes has been sought at street level, while the podium itself seeks to be consistent with its surrounds at between 3-4 levels in height.
Differing materials, arrangements and elements are present over lower levels, although all are within a modular theme which is referred multiple times within the development documents. This is essentially a reference to the site's heritage surrounds where the majority of structures are quite uniform in size and composition.
Vertical highlights are evident within these modular or 'squared' podium sections as seen above, breaking up the lower levels and providing articulation. This is further bolstered by a vertical green wall which will visually separate the bulk components of the building.
The Simmons and Chapel intersection is subject to a feature design element which differs from the remainder of the podium. Behind the timber cladding and angled screens are retail, restaurant and commercial office space over four levels. Due to its leading edge position and proximity to a the heritage pub opposite, the distinctive, softened podium feature has been employed.