Lend Lease invited us to participate in a limited design competition for 300 apartments and a 150 room boutique hotel on a site known as C5 or “888 Collins Street”. The site is located at the intersection of Collins and Bourke Street, Victoria Harbour in Melbourne’s Docklands. The Docklands sits to the west of the CBD and is one of the largest urban renewal projects in the country. The Docklands is exposed to the prevailing winds and is a considerably harsher urban environment than the CBD due to the lack of built form to the north, west and south. With the exception of Etihad Stadium and the newly constructed Melbourne Wheel, residential and commercial buildings dominate the Docklands.
The program for 888 Collins Street called for a mixed building incorporating apartments, hotel, retail, restaurants and bars. The Docklands precinct is yet to achieve a 24 hour level of activity and the client wanted the building to create a significant place, destination and venue for the precinct, to enhance Victoria Harbour’s “soul” and “desirability”. The other major program parameter was that due to the high water table the apartment car parking must be an above ground structure.
Our design strategy was to create an iconic tower form and avoid the business as usual “podium-tower” solution. To achieve this we separated the car parking structure from the tower and combined the apartment and hotel program requirement into a one triangular plan element. The triangle tower is approximately 40 storeys high and has a central core with back-to-back lifts separating hotel and apartment users with a simple repetitive structure eliminating the need for transfer structures. We positioned this tall and slender tower at the western end of the site at the Collins and Bourke Street intersection leaving the eastern end of the site for the 8 storey car-park structure. This site specific massing diagram forms an affinitive relationship to the triangular nature of the Victoria Harbour precinct whereby tall buildings define the water edges to the north and south leaving the broad central area for low to medium rise buildings.
The triangle tower floor plan allows the maximum amount of floor space possible to benefit from a northern orientation and the best available views of both the city and harbor. The tower form is connected to the car park structure by the hotel atrium, mirrored pedestrian bridges and an overhead glass pool. The atrium is designed to be a modern interpretation of a typical Melbourne laneway. Above the hotel atrium and pool is the main hotel restaurant and bar positioned to take in the panoramic views of Melbourne’s skyline.
The car park structure is designed to be a “pillow of green”. Covering the roof and all sides this landscape element will provide an organic and powerful image for the building. The vertical and horizontal landscaping be watered utilizing harvested rainwater and grey water from the development. The tower’s façade will be a double skin glazing system with winter-gardens provided for the apartments to ensure maximum amenity, thermal conditions and wind protection for residents of the tower. The architectonic and functional contrast inherent in these design elements serves to enhance the iconic identity of the tower.
The ground floor area is designed as a double height space to accommodate the servicing requirements of both the hotel and apartment back of house together with our desire to provide a grand and generous pedestrian experience of the building with high retail and lounge spaces. This double height ground floor provides significance for apartment entry at 888 Collins Street that is used also the through-site link for Waterside Place. The ground floor space finished with a major signature bar designed to give presence and activity at the important street corner of Collins and Bourke.