Sky’s the limit, Beulah unveils $2bn Australia’s tallest tower

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THE BMW Southbank dealership on Melbourne’s city fringe could make way for Australia’s tallest tower, after Malaysian developer Beulah International unveiled the six architectural designs under consideration for its $2 billion overhaul of the 6,061 sqm site.

A majority of the designs shortlisted following a six-month competition soar close to 360 metres, well beyond the 312.4-metre height of the top floor of the adjacent Australia 108, currently under construction, and the 322.5-metre high tip of the Q1 on the Gold Coast.

Doubts remain over Crown’s obligation to its $1.75 billion One Queensbridge tower, to be developed with Schiavello Group, also in Southbank. It is planned to be 323 metres high and comprise 388 hotel rooms and 708 residential apartments, but key planning checkpoints are yet to be reached nearly 18 months after conditional approval was granted by the state government.

Malaysian-backed developer Beulah paid the German car manufacturer $101,088,888 for the triple-fronted property at 58 Southbank Boulevard late last year, with 2,000 sqm of the site to be kept for a new BMW dealership.

It sold with a development scheme designed by Fender Katsalidis, comprising two towers with more than 800 apartments, 600 hotel rooms and 10,000 sqm of retail space.

“Beulah’s vision for the site is to create a state-of-the-art, integrated mixed-use environment that would include retail, hotel, residential, commercial, cultural and public spaces,” Beulah International executive director, Adelene Teh said.

“From twisting towers, interlocking blocks, a propeller penthouse, stacked neighbourhoods, vertical cities and an illuminated cloud, the winning concept is expected to draw global attention with all six designs imbuing extraordinary innovation”

MAD Architects and Elenberg Fraser’s proposed “mountain village” would reach 360 metres, and comprise 43 residential floors and 24 floors of hotel, with the design punctuated by “The Cloud”, positioned at 317 metres and offering 360-degree views of Melbourne, with LED lighting changing colour as day turns into night.

Incumbents Fender Katsalidis joined with Bjarke Ingels Group to submit dual-tower “The Lanescraper”, reaching 359.6 metres and comprising a number of interlocked blocks stacked on top of each other.

“Green Spine” by UNStudio and Cox Architecure comprises two towers that appear to shed their glass frontage for a green interior as they rise. The residential tower would reach 356.20 metres high and feature the publicly accessible Future Botanic Garden at its crown, while the hotel and office building would touch 252.20 metres.

Both “The Lanescraper” and “Green Spine” would include BMW “experience centres”.

Coop Himmelb(l)au and Architectus put forward “The Beulah Propeller City”, deemed a “vertical city” made up of four main functional parts; public podium, office, hotel and apartment tower. Reaching 335 metres, it would feature 18 floors of mixed use retail and public space; 16 floors of office; 15 floors of hotel; and 46 residential floors with a minimum ceiling height of 2.7 meters.

Paths and recreation space in “Stack”, by MVRDV and Woods Bagot, would enable activities typically impossible in a high-rise structure, including taking the dog for a walk, or going for a jog. It would include a suspended “forest track” open stair, as well as The Tropical Garden on top of the hotel component, and a pool at the centre of the building with an underwater city window. The name is based around the concept of stacked neighbourhoods connected from the bottom to the top, and the tower would reach 359 metres.

OMA and Conrad Gargett’s design focuses on the base of the building, looking to reference Melbourne arcade and markets, and more broadly looks to create a 24/7 mixed-use vertical city with commercial office and hotel spaces above, and the residential component positioned through the top of the tower to capitalise on views and daylight.

The decision makers for the winning design include Victorian government architect jury chair Jill Garner, architectural photographer John Gollings, Professor Thomas Kvan, former pro vice-chancellor at the University of Melbourne and director of Australian Urban Research Information Network; Cameron Bruhn, the editorial director of architecture media; and Adelene Teh and Jiaheng Chan from Beulah International.

The winning design will be announced in August.

Australian Property Journal

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