UNStudio and Cox Architecture embarked on a global architecture study tour as they prepare to create a landmark mixed-use development for Southbank, Melbourne.

The tour explored a number of different residential and commercial developments, art galleries, hotels, retail concept stores, libraries, restaurants and bars. At each location, the team was given the unique opportunity to meet with global leaders in development, architecture, engineering, building contracting and hotel management, guiding the group through the form and function of each project.

The architects visited seven cities: Shanghai, Hangzhou, New York, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo and London.

“By visiting various projects overseas we were able to truly understand how development can positively change the urban fabric of a city,” says Beulah International executive director Adelene Teh.

“The way in which other global cities have approached regeneration of urban areas is something we can learn from.

“For instance, in London, the redevelopment of the Kings Cross Precinct through rigorous master planning and the activation of an entire piece of the city with its latest shopping district, Coal Drops Yard, is simply incredible. Looking to New York, the new addition of Hudson Yards, which sits almost at the end of the High Line, has transformed the surrounding suburbs.   

“The union of the two has activated the entire Lower West Side of Manhattan through the combination of business and corporate offices, greenery and a trail of new museums, hotels and apartments.”

Adelene says that while height is of course a factor for SBB, the learning components from their time overseas go far beyond this.

“Tall towers are common overseas - on this trip the standouts for us were Shanghai Tower (587.4m) in China, and in New York the Empire State Building which reached soaring heights in 1931 (381m)  and 432 Park Avenue (392.1m). But for us, this project is more than that. We needed to look at hundreds of locations because we cannot find one individual building globally that has set the exact precedence of what we are planning to do in Southbank.

“Our vision is that it becomes a true vertical city with something for every single person in Melbourne, both visitors and residents. We want to offer an unprecedented world class multi-use offering for the city.

“One of the biggest components in our project is public green spaces, so seeing how different cities intertwine this into their architecture was truly eye opening. Particularly, the way in which these spaces at the Highline in New York and the Parkroyal and Gardens by the Bay in Singapore add to the tourism and economy of the respective cities is something we would love to achieve in SBB.”

Conceived as a conceptual extension of the Southbank Boulevard, Beulah International’s building will be home to a vertical city of green spaces with a strong focus on culture, paying homage to Melbourne’s diverse population. The project will result in a true multi-use precinct composed of two twisting towers connected by a podium with greenery that travels from street level to the top, culminating in a future garden space.

Pictured: Bloomberg HQ in London. Image credit: Beulah International