Melbourne reaches for the stars
It’s official: the “Southbank Project” has been given the green light. Melbourne will be home to the world’s first genuine vertical city.
The images of cities whose buildings soar up into the sky rather than spreading out over the ground are truly spectacular. They tend to be futuristic rather than realistic, though.
For instance, Italian architect Luca Curci has developed a vertical city that could solve almost every urban problem in one go. It is designed to rise up through water and extend far into the sky. Where it will be situated and who is going to pay for it have yet to be decided.
The “Southbank Project” in Melbourne is in an entirely different league, however. It recently received the official seal of approval when the Victorian State Government granted planning permission for the two gigantic towers.
The world’s first vertical city
Although the higher of the two – at 365 metres – is not quite as high as the newly completed Central Park Tower in New York, which is currently the tallest residential building in the world at 472.44 metres, it is more than just a skyscraper: together with its slightly shorter companion, the building plays host to a vertical city. In other words: everything that is associated with a conventional city will be found inside.
Districts in the sky
This means that the vertical mini-metropolis was designed from the outset to encourage the mushrooming of whole “districts”. Officially titled “Southbank by Beulah”, and soon to be Australia’s tallest building, it will accommodate a wide variety of social worlds that are familiar from traditional cities.
Four areas are earmarked for private apartments. A huge rooftop garden will be accessible by the general public, as will the various green spaces – “pocket parks” that are used throughout the entire project with the aim of integrating nature in the city. “They will be a focal point throughout the building, connecting neighbourhoods within the residential tower, providing residents with a sense of community and a place to relax,” remarks the city’s future administration.
The administrative departments will naturally be housed in a genuine “City Hall” with all the necessary facilities. Commercial offices, an urban five-star hotel and also health centres and various wellness areas are planned as well. Arts and culture spaces are envisaged in the areas with “shopping malls”.
From a visual perspective, the two city towers form a whole that twists up into the sky through 101 storeys like a kind of curved spine, offering 270,000 square metres of floor space in total.
A brief comparison: the huge Shopping City South near Vienna, complete with its 10,000 parking spaces, covers exactly the same area. But that is all on a single level.
Southbank by Beulah will transform the way Melburnians work, live, learn, revitalize and play.
Jiaheng Chan, Beulah Managing Director
Let us return to what will be Australia’s tallest building when it is completed in around seven years’ time. This is the length of time calculated for construction of the huge project by the partners UNStudio and Cox Architecture.
Everything is currently being prepared for the start of construction, which is planned for early next year. The consortium that submitted the proposal is naturally delighted that the project has been approved. There is a certain element of astonishment in the air, though. People say that planning permission hadn’t really been expected.
After all, the Minister for Planning The Hon. Richard Wynne had shown reluctance in the past. Even the request for approval by the aviation authority that was necessary due to the height of the building experienced unexpected turbulence.
What turned the balance, then? As strange as this might sound, it was the COVID-19 crisis. In order to counteract the anticipated 14% economic downturn, the government fast-tracked permission for construction projects with a total value of several billion dollars, two billion of which are for this project alone. After all, the “Southbank” guarantees 4,700 jobs for the coming years, and 3,250 permanent jobs thereafter. It is a dimension that cannot be ignored in Melbourne.
Praise for the government
Beulah Managing Director Jiaheng Chan was quick to publish a laudatory press release: “We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to both the Victorian government and the City of Melbourne for their endorsement of Southbank by Beulah, which we hope will play a significant role in Melbourne’s economic recovery over the coming years.”
It will set a global benchmark for an unprecedented lifestyle hub that caters to present and future generations.
Jiaheng Chan, Beulah Managing Director
Chan also described how the project will ultimately serve the residents of Australia: “Southbank by Beulah will transform the way Melburnians work, live, learn, revitalize and play. It will set a global benchmark for an unprecedented lifestyle hub that caters to present and future generations and will assist in the future growth of Melbourne and its vision to become a truly global smart city.”
At any rate, it will be the first vertical city to leave the drawing board and makes its way out onto the streets. And that is – quite simply – impressive.