The best of intentions: 135 Sturt Street, Southbank

Prominent Melbourne architecture firm Hayball has taken a differing tact in relation to one of its current high-rise projects which is currently being assessed at a State level. As one of a handful of owners of 135 Sturt Street Southbank which also serves as their head office, Hayball have seemingly stamped their own imprimatur on the composition of the proposed residential tower.

Unencumbered by the needs and wants of a developer, the architecture practice has created a building which they believe will yield a “net community benefit.” This is achieved not only by including a diverse range of dwellings types and affordable housing options, but also by effectively expanding the adjoining arts precinct.

Six separate entities control 135 Sturt Street Southbank, with Cystic Fibrosis Association of Victoria joining Hayball as the most prominent owners. The planning application is also actively pursuing a partnership with nearby art institutions with one scenario allowing for the Malthouse Set Workshop and Chunky Move Studio to relocate to the proposed tower in order to allow for the expansion of the adjoining The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art building.

Application summary

The site in question. Image courtesy Urbis
  • Current use: two storey commercial building over a 2884.6sqm site
  • Proposed 42 level tower (including plant) at 134 metres in height
  • 341 apartments: studio, 1, 2, 3 and Penthouse dwellings
  • 226 car and 151 bicycle spaces within two basement levels
  • Communal spaces over levels 12, 13 and 39
  • 2094sqm of retail/commercial adaptable space available
  • Nominal project value: $98 million

Design statement

Our consultation with our neighbours has encouraged us to consider the possibility of this building being a microcosm of inner city. This as a city building which coalesces many uses and elements into one entity as a viable development proposition.

The design response aims to cultivate site and place, to authentically enrich the experience of the social and urban realm. The architectural approach presents a deliberate and resolved series of site specific strategies for an ensemble of forms. The building is therefore experienced as an assemblage of elements and not as a monolith.

A composition of activities is created, forming defensive or protective spaces within the site both in response to the CityLink off ramp and freeway opposite, and the adjoining Malthouse theatre structures on the northern boundary. This is intended to offer a social and cultural dimension to its experience and underpin the making of place through dynamic, animated interaction.

Hayball: Urban Context Report

Love thy neighbour

Lower levels as envisaged from Sturt Street. Image courtesy Hayball

A laneway will frame the northern flank of the proposed tower, allowing for the “Melbourne experience” within Southbank. Event spaces, commercial and retail spaces, placemaking features and a bar café are expected, providing interest on a human scale.

An art space is expected to front Sturt Street while levels one and two of the intended building are designed as flexible commercial spaces; likely for the new Malthouse Set Workshop and Chunky Move Studio should the development team's intentions come to fruition.

We seek to curate a large scale mixed use development that is both inclusive and diverse within Melbourne’s Arts Precinct providing a much needed richness and livability being a catalyst for an attractive destination and connected place to live emerge within Southbank.

Hayball: Urban Context Report

A nod to diverse housing types

The large range of apartment options included speaks of almost altruistic intentions on Hayball's behalf; far from the typical one and two bedroom options that define most apartment developments.

Numerous levels feature studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom dwellings. Image courtesy Hayball

Studio, 1 Bed 1 Bath, 1 Bed 1 Bath Flexi, 2 Bed 1 Bath, 2 Bed 2 Bath, 3 Bed 2 Bath and 3 Bed 3 Bath options are included with flexible floorplates allowing for 2 bedroom apartments to be expanded by way of subsuming the adjoining studio apartment if requested. Not only is there a diverse apartment mix, but the intended residential mix has been outlined.

Short term accommodation options for patrons or employees of the Arts Precinct are catered for as is a set percentage of affordable housing dwellings within the development. The array of apartment formats also speaks toward the intended mix of families, ageing, singles, and couples expected to call 135 Sturt Street home.

37 three bedroom apartments are included, which represents a disproportionately high 11% of dwellings, with this number capable of being expanded.

Development team

  • Developer: Hayball (lead entity)
  • Architectural plans, elevations and sections: Hayball Architects
  • Urban Context Report: Hayball Architects
  • Planning: Urbis
  • Wind Engineering Assessment: MEL Consultants
  • Waste Management Plan: Leigh Design
  • Sustainability Management Plan: Simpson Kotzman
  • Traffic: Traffix


Bilby's picture

This looks very good indeed. More please. Is it really "altruistic", though? That would mean that the developer/s is losing money for the good of the community to build this. Is that what is being proposed, here - a loss making venture?

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Carlo Zeccola's picture

Is the developer donating the space to Chunky Move and Malthouse?

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Mark Baljak's picture

Had they have gone with a different apartment mix I'd suggest there could be an increased return on the development (assuming those involved choose to develop themselves).

So yes a degree of putting the community and surrounds first at their own expense.

Or perhaps this is the best way they can see a tower gain approval which is well above the nominal height limit for the area?

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Bilby's picture

I understand your argument, but I'm not convinced that including opportunity cost should count when it comes to matters of altruism, Mark.

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theboynoodle's picture

The 2+1 setup is being presented as a family-orientated design, but I wonder if it would appeal more to someone looking to rent/airbnb part of their own home. It would be interesting to see how the economics stacked up - what's the $/m2 rate in Southbank? $8,000? If you could rent it for $400 a week that's a 7% return.

I don't know about the other plates - but I would point out that the 1 and 2 bed layouts on that illustration are *exactly* "the typical one and two bedroom options that define most apartment developments". Diversifying apartment design isn't just about adding in extra bedrooms, it's about making 1 and 2 bed apartments better and designing some that are to be lived in, not rented out. All of those two beds have two bathrooms and therefore (in my most humble of opinions) fall at the very first hurdle.

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