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$200m three-tower development approved for old Melbourne Convention Centre site

Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne has approved a $200 million, three-tower development to be built on the former Melbourne Convention Centre site at 7-23 Spencer Street.

Designed by Elenberg Fraser, the three towers will range from 27 to 34 storeys and comprise of 1,060 residential units, 451 car bays, 160 bicycle spaces and retail spaces on an 8,500-square-metre site, located at Docklands North Wharf on the edge of the Yarra River.

The design is characterized by sloping green roofs at the top of each tower. “We see the tops of the towers as natural river banks, heavily vegetated and articulated, elevated by smooth, floating glass objects,” said Elenberg Fraser’s project design leader James Harbard.

Due to the site location on the river, the sloping tops of the towers are designed to ensure that the south bank of the Yarra is not overshadowed by the development during the middle of the day.

The design of the towers is derived from “a parametric design process [to] prioritize views down the Yarra corridor,” Harbard said.

“We established primary and secondary views, [then] tweaked the script to output a massing that ensured the majority of apartments received what we deemed ‘primary views’ down this corridor,” Harbard said.

One of the key focus areas was to create activated connections at ground level and through Siddeley Street to revitalize the underused area. The design aims to create a similar feel to the South Wharf side of the river as part of the regeneration of the precinct.

The site’s owners Eureka Funds Management and Asset1 bought the site from the Victorian government for about $40 million in 2010, but have decided to put the site up for sale following the approval of the development this week, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The old Melbourne Convention Centre was designed by John Andrews, the Australian Institute of Architects’ 1980 Gold Medallist, and was completed in 1990. It is currently undergoing demolition.

The Docklands North Wharf promenade is set to receive more than $1 billion worth of residential and commercial development.

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