A dramatic new mixed-use development across an entire city block in central Melbourne. Its identity hardwires it into the city.
The first truly mixed-use building in Australia, Collins Arch includes apartments and shared facilities, a five-star W Hotel which has just opened, commercial tenancies, a retail laneway, a colonnade of cafes, bars and restaurants facing public green space, and a covered public amphitheater.
The project is born of two key, complementary ideas: an urban design idea that links it to a larger public space network; and a concept for mixed use development where the emphasis is on an active ground plane to create a landmark destination. The ground plane was always where the project started.
On the other hand, the building’s bold and striking form – two towers connected by a skybridge – was dictated by the mix of program. The skybridge is not simply decorative. It maximizes views and sunlight for office, hotel and residential occupants of the two buildings that, on the ground, meet public space and commercial requirements.
Collins Arch evokes an international sense of design and uniqueness yet secles easily into the Melbourne skyline and the surrounding local context.
Addressing the demanding mix-use program through vertical stacking the architects optimized each floor plate and each typology to emancipate nearly 45 percent of the site back to the city. Its design is already having a positive impact on quality of life, public health, and a greener, more liveable Melbourne.
From top to bottom Collins Arch is about liveability: the dual towers’ combined footprint occupies not much more than the public open space, providing an urban, public-spirited, and fresh space for active and passive enjoyment. Adding to its sustainability and resilience is the green infrastructure of a new park next to the site, whose landscape architecture reinforces the distinctive identity of the place.
Yet, as the impact of Covid-19 advances (and Melbourne is back under restricted conditions), is urban life as we’ve known it still viable and desirable? The architects believe it is, and that while Covid-19 may fuel trends in city formation, it won’t fundamentally change them.
“There’s a highly-charged energy associated with this mix of activity, whose scale and complexity are unprecedented. People will feed off that energy in proof that the beating heart of a metropolis is still the best way to live,” said Nik Karalis, Woods Bagot’s CEO.
Collins Arch is the brainchild of Cbus Property, an Australian property investor and developer. In 2014 Woods Bagot and SHoP won Cbus Property’s design competition for the project, notably for their ground plane concept and vision to give a great deal back to the city.