OMA has revealed its entry for the ‘Southbank by Beulah’ tower competition in Melbourne, whose height of 345 m and total GFA of 255,000 m2 marks it the second largest building that OMA designed after CCTV headquarters in Beijing.
The city of Melbourne is renowned for its livability – a moderate climate, beautiful surroundings, a thriving cultural life – but it is marked by a curious paradox: people hardly live in the city. Melbourne is one of the most sprawling cities in the world; it covers three times the area of London with just a third of the population. The Southbank is perhaps the area in Melbourne in most need of an injection of life. Shortsighted developments spawned a desolate landscape of high-rises that stand empty waiting for next real estate transaction. OMA’s proposal for Southbank by Beulah addresses these complex factors and stretches the boundaries to benefit public life in the center of Melbourne – the tower as an urban experiment, a living lab, a vibrant vertical city.
OMA’s design proposes a tower stemming from a base that acts as a 24/7 mixed-use vertical city with cultural, commercial, educational and social program elements bound together with the more generic programs of retail, food, and beverage. In this vertical city, there are highways of movement through large express escalators, shortcuts by elevators, and laneways to wander on through normal escalators, stairs, and voids.
The Base follows the outline of the site and then tapers back to a slab 100m above the city. In this volume, different programs are distributed strategically to create dynamic vertical movement, and are rendered distinguishable from both inside and outside through façade elements of dichroic, polarized, and see-through colored metal mesh laminated glass. Open arches at street level, inspired by the Italianate arcades of Melbourne, invite the public into a vertical wonderland of discovery: a sheltered extension of both the street life surrounding the building and of Melbourne itself. The Base includes the BMW Experience Centre, positioned on the corner of Southbank and City Road.
The tower is divided in three sections: office, hotel and residential. The office block sits right above the Base so that a significant number of lift banks is no longer necessary for the vertical transport in the hotel and blocks. The flexible floor plates offer grand views of Southbank and City Road and include green areas on each floor on the corners facing the east and west ends. The hotel block consists of 17 floors including two amenity levels at the top and bottom of the block. The residential part of the tower is deliberately situated at the top to capitalize on views and daylight. The gentle twist at the top of the residential component not only provides the tower with an iconic and elegant silhouette but also enhances the quality of the residences with views towards Port Philip Bay and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The project is led by Managing Partner-Architect David Gianotten, Australia Director Paul Jones and Project Architect Roza Matveeva, in collaboration with Conrad Gargett and Arup. The results of the “Southbank by Beulah” tower competition will be revealed on August 8th, 2018.