This page has been updated to include new imagery released by the architects.

A 68-storey glass tower with “spiralling curves” reminiscent of a Beyonce music video is set to dance its way up on the old Savoy Tavern site in Melbourne’s CBD, after Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne approved the Elenberg Fraser design.

Located on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets, the $350 million mixed-use building will introduce 660 apartments and 160 hotel rooms to the western end of the CBD, and has been created entirely by parametric modelling, which its architects likens to “the essence of first principles design”.

Its twists and turns recall a “woman dancing in black cloth” – the woman being Beyonce who, wrapped in flowing, fluid black fabric, similarly shows off curves in her Ghost music video. The building’s deceptively complex form, however, is not the result of just fun and games, with Elenberg Fraser adding that it is the best possible solution to wind, solar and massing criteria and requirements.

“On top of that – we’ve taken the heritage surrounds into account, stepping down from the podium to meet them at eye level,” the design team writes. “This building is just another step in the westerly shift of the CBD.”

Sitting on a site left dormant after an old tavern closed more than 20 years ago, but which re-opened about a year ago, the large-scale project has always been in the books. Developers Fragrance Group had originally submitted an application for an 89-storey building, but concerns were raised that the “excessive” height would overshadow Batman Park and the north bank of the Yarra.

As a result the 300m tower was cut back to 226m, with Wynne noting that the building “will create a landmark at a key location that has been a ‘bomb site’ for many years”.

“This building will house more residents in a part of the CBD that is ripe for renewal, delivering more housing options for people wanting to live close to work and services,” he says, adding that he is dedicated to approving new towers on sites best suited for density, and which are close to transport and services.

Images: Elenberg Fraser, AFR

However, unit sizes of the new spiralling tower have prompted questions about the government’s commitment to quality apartments – the smallest apartment is 41sqm, which is smaller than the 50sqm minimum in NSW, although the mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments are on average sized at 57sqm.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy is one who has accused the current VIC government for being “all talk about apartment standards and no action”, but Wynne defended the approval of the new tower, saying that it was a good example of a project offering a dwelling mix.

“It's not to say that a 40 square metre well-designed apartment cannot be acceptable. You can't be doctrinaire about this. Good design has to be at core of this, as does affordability,” he told The Australian Financial Review.

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Wynne recently released a discussion paper, Better Apartments, as part of consultation into raising apartment standards in the state. The paper looks at questions about the size and variety of new apartments in Victoria.

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