Reaching for the sky in City North

Entering the month of October, Melbourne is in the unprecedented position of now having a seventh tower spanning at least 200 metres at construction.

Carlton United Brewery site fronting Swanston and Bouverie streets has remained dormant since its closure during 1987. In that period a variety of proposals have filtered through for the prime site, but none were successful until developer Hengyi secured the development plot and revealed the 237m Swanston Central which is being built by Multiplex.

Of the now seven towers above 200 metres at construction, the majority are found at the northern end of Melbourne’s CBD. Light House, EQ Tower, Aurora Melbourne Central and Victoria One are jointly beginning to, or are impacting the skyline, while Swanston Central will visually fall under the umbrella of Melbourne’s northern CBD despite it being in Carlton.

The two remaining towers under a builder’s guidance are Collins House at 204 metres and Australia 108 on Southbank Boulevard at 319 metres.

Melbourne is also one step closer to having a Jean Nouvel-designed tower with the City of Melbourne providing its support for the 244m tower by the Pritzker-winning architect. The project features a 23.5m lobby space covered in digital artworks and a new laneway connection. Dubbed “The Tower of Seven Colors,” the moniker refers to the building’s response to its context, adopting the visual characteristics of its neighbours via different colours to its four elevations.

City of Melbourne has also provided support to a 16-storey office tower at 271 Spring St designed by John Wardle Architects for owners ISPT. Set to be the new headquarters of Australian Unity, the proposal seeks approval for the full and partial demolition of existing buildings and the restoration of parts of the external and internal parts of the former Church of England Mission as well as parts of the Elms Family Hotel. The new office tower would cantilever over the Elms Family Hotel and to a much lesser degree, the former Church of England Mission

In other office-related news, Victoria Police look set to move to a new headquarters at 311 Spencer St next to the existing City West Police Complex with site owners pushing ahead with a revised design of 39 storeys or 174 metres. The reworked design, which would be the tallest office tower to be constructed in the city for over two decades, features a sloping roof across three levels. It should be noted that of the current crop of prospective commercial towers, 80 Collins St is approved at a taller height, but proponent QIC has stumbled in getting the tower to construction.

And finally, the City of Melbourne has voted to award developer PDG Corporation the right to build a car park and community facilities at the Munro site in addition to a tower over 100 metres tall adjacent to the market.

PDG’s redevelopment of the Munro site will include, “a 120-place childcare facility, family and children’s services centre, community centre, community kitchen, artist studios, city room gallery, affordable housing, customer car park and mixed-use development with residential apartments, retail and other uses.”

Final say on approval of any development on the site lies with Planning Minister Richard Wynne – watch this space.

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