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    Who will design West Melbourne’s new high-tech mini-city?

    Nathan Johnson

    The Victorian government has announced their preferred bidder to develop a 400-hectare major education and employment hub in Melbourne’s East Werribee, but all is quiet about who will design the spread of buildings in the precinct.

    The Chinese-backed Australian Education City (AEC) consortium has been chosen as the preferred bidder for The East Werribee Major Development Parcel, a triangular site of mostly green space situated on the freeway to Geelong, which was first released for Expressions of Interest to developers back in 2012.

    Australian Education City has released renders of their proposal and also basic information about what the mini-city might incorporate, but all that is up in the air, at least for 90 days, while the consortium proves to the government that they can deliver on all of their promises.

    Those promises include a 1.5 million sqm city on the site, including soaring towers and Australian and overseas universities.

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    There are renders of 50-storey skyscrapers, hubs for hi-tech industries and education and a lakeside entertainment precinct. The towers, as well as a mix of townhouses and houses are expected to bring in 100,000 new residents across 30,000 dwellings. The city would also eventually provide 58,000 jobs.

    As far as the education element of the development goes, there has been speculation that a tie-up between an Australian university and a Chinese counterpart will go ahead and will have capacity for 40,000 students. 

    The consortium also has a list of sustainability goals for the city:

    • 100% public transport use
    • 100% independent waste management
    • 100% island mode energy system
    • 60% water reduction
    • 30% green roofs
    • Fully-integrated smart city ICT infrastructure

    Who will design the elements of the precinct is also yet to be disclosed, however AEC does have a long list of management and executive team members and consultants that work for them as well as an all Australian Advisory Board.

    In a design and construction capacity, Shane Sheedy of Capitol Property Group, Chinese architect Kevin Liu and Pierluigi Montanini. an architect with 25 years design experience in Rome, Vienna, Los Angeles, Sapporo and Saudi Arabia, have all been listed as on the books for AEC.

    The advisory board includes:

    • The Hon John Brumby (former Premier of Victoria)
    • James van Smeerdijk (economic and policy expert, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers)
    • Knowles Tivendale (strategic planning and transport at Phillip Boyle and Associates)
    • Professor Tony Bacic (former Director of Bio21 and holds a Personal Chair in the School of Botany at the University of Melbourne)

    The consortium now has less than 90 days to prove that their project is viable to be delivered over the next 20 to 30 years and will answer tough questions about transport links and how it pay for the site if the Foreign Investment Review Board reject its proposal to purchase it using foreign investor funds.

    Images: Australian Education City

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