Melbourne’s next ‘pencil tower’

Construction has begun on a slender Bates Smart-designed residential tower in Melbourne’s CBD.

Developer Golden Age Development Group claims that the tower, dubbed Collins House and located at 466 Collins Street, will be one of the world’s skinniest, measuring 195 metres tall and 12 metres wide.

Collins House by Bates Smart. Image:  Bates Smart

When completed in 2018, the building will join a class of skyscrapers referred to as ‘pencil towers’ or ‘skinnyscrapers’ – terms coined by the website skyscraperdictionary.com. Pencil towers are defined by a height-to-width ratio of at least 10 to one. Collins House clears the hurdle comfortably with a ratio of 16.25 to one.

The site was previously owned by Grollo Equiset, the developers behind the Phoenix Apartments by Fender Katsalidis, which is currently laying claim to being Melbourne’s skinniest tower. Phoenix Apartments measures 88.5 metres tall and 6.7 metres wide with a height-to-width ratio of 13.2 to one.

Grollo Equiset flipped the development to Golden Age Group in 2014 after it was approved by the then-planning minister Matthew Guy.

According to a 2009 exhibition curated by the The Skyscraper Museum, New York is the “birthplace of the improbably slender tower,” with early examples dating back as far as 1897.

Hong Kong’s Highcliff tower, designed by Dennis Lau and Ng Chun Man Architects and Engineers, colloquially known as “the chopstick,” currently lays claim to being the world’s skinniest, with a slenderness ratio of 20 to one. However, this title will soon be repatriated to its birthplace with New York’s 111 West 57th Street, designed by SHoP Architects. When completed in 2017, 111 West 57th Street will have a slenderness ratio of 23 to one.

Collins House, which sits atop the heritage listed Huddart Parker & Co building, also known as the Makers Mark building, will house 263 apartments across 57 levels.


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