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    COX reveal designs for “pleated” towers within Southbank’s largest green reserve

    Kirsty Sier

    COX Architecture has revealed their designs for Melbourne Square, the large-scale mixed-use development that is to provide Southbank with its largest public green reserve.

    The project will see the combination of residential, hotel and commercial developments, supported by an active public realm that will comprise over 3,745 square metres of open space. Clearly, the exterior and public elements of this project were just as important as the built form. For their delivery – and its integration – COX worked closely with TCL landscape architects.

    “Fundamentally, our approach focussed on the opportunity that the site offered to combine a significant suite of high-quality buildings within what will ultimately become Southbank’s largest reserve of green, open parkland,” COX associate Paul Curry told Architecture & Design.

    “We wanted to create a new kind of public open space not only for the occupants of the project, but also for the broader Southbank area. The extensive parkland that we have been able to provide has a generosity which will shape the future of this part of the city.

    “Melbourne Square will have Southbank’s largest park at its base.”

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    Together, COX and TCL created what Curry calls a “new type of open space” for Melbourne Square, comprises a folded landform and myriad types of open space, such as green areas and piazzas. These elements have been activated at ground level with a network of retail and hospitality offerings.

    The built form itself has been created as a sensitive response to the landscape. At its landform base, the development integrates with the human scale through its “responsive” materiality – a combination of stone cladding, precast elements and contoured fins throughout the terraced podium levels.

    The two, slim towers that comprise the development “evolve organically” from this landform base, with pleated forms that add an elegant sculptural element to the surrounding parkland. This pleated form is further accentuated by different levels of reflectivity in the glazed façades. Curry says that COX’s approach to façade design was informed by the nearby Melbourne Arts Precinct.

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    “The grandeur of Melbourne Square lies in its city-sealed vision for the precinct and the prominence of the site on approach towards the CBD. The sculptural forms of the buildings are very much part of this vision, the materiality and form of the slender towers evolve organically from the parkland base and serve to define the project against the city skyline,” says Curry.

    “Each of the design elements really stem from each other; they really are differing aspects of the same approach. Start with the idea of a natural landform for the landscape base which folds, ramps and terraces upwards to form the lower portions of the building and lead ultimately to the pleated tower forms.

    “Taking the idea of the traditional bay window for each apartment, we have designed the towers with a twisting floor plate that responds to the varying views and amenity for each of the apartments through the height of the towers. In effect, each floor plate is slightly different, which in turn creates the elegant pleated forms within Melbourne’s skyline.

    “Working with Carr interior designers, the pleated language is then carried through each of the spaces within the project whether it is the residential lobbies, kitchen joinery or common facilities. Residents can genuinely feel that when they come to Melbourne Square, they are coming home; that all the elements are seamlessly tied together and it feels like a singular space. We are creating a holistic environment.”

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    Multiplex has been charged with the design and construction contractor, and will work with COX to confirm specific products and manufacturers for Melbourne Square. All three stages of the project are expected to be delivered by late 2020.

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