The Australian architecture and interior design studio’s project at 623 Collins Street salutes the past while embracing the rewards of the future as a major mixed-use development.
Carr was eager to design the 42-level milestone project, which was undergoing a redevelopment by Sterling Global and located opposite Southern Cross station on the corner of Collins and Spencer Street in Melbourne’s CBD.
The proposed design is grounded in an appreciation for the historic surroundings. Carr is hoping the project will demonstrate design’s potential to enrich past identities in a contemporary way through honouring the existing site, and its context and character.
The site features two Heritage-listed buildings bordering the proposal, the State Savings bank and the Batman’s Hill Hotel. Carr recognised the value of working with these pre-existing buildings in producing a greater human-scale experience.
Carr enlisted the help of Heritage consultants Lovell Chen to ensure 623 Collins Street returns a sense of form, scale and rhythm to the precinct.
Development director at Sterling Global Brandon Yeoh says 623 Collins Street is the perfect fit for a CBD aspiring towards a future identity as a multi-use destination.
“The site will complete the revitalisation of the western CBD end of Collins Street that is aiming to become the heart of transport networks with access to a wide range of amenities and cultural, sporting and education institutions,” says Yeoh.
The grandeur of the three podiums and two tower forms is achieved by allowing a strong vertical language to highlight a sense of scale through the recurring square detail motif in the screen perforation.
The repetition of the design rhythm enlivens the street with an engaging architectural reading – an effect that was previously eclipsed by the demolition and in-fill of contemporary buildings.
Overall, 623 Collins Street exemplifies the power of achieving architectural precision and refinery. In a diversion from traditional mixed-use projects with wider ground planes, the site is tasked with servicing different users of the hotel, residential apartments, restaurants and a rooftop bar, in a modest and effortless way without the privilege of space.
In accommodating the different user requirements, the site relies on a central in-between space that functions as a pedestrian entry point for the majority of users and culminates in a bifurcation towards the restaurant, office, bar and hotel.
Carr managing director Chris McCue was excited to introduce a new architectural language to this area of the CBD.
“The separate entrances for residential and commercial spaces provide an elevated and distinctive arrival experience,” says McCue.
A feeling of distraction and exclusivity at the forefront of the residential entry means this space is designed for residents rather than visitors. However, the design still allows various users independent identities in the general ground plane while encouraging engagement and interaction with the street.
The public’s connection with the building is also facilitated through the new fill-in podium building that lifts the form, so the ground plane moves into the building.
This design choice, coupled with the permeable nature of the building, dissolves the boundaries between the public and private sphere, and encourages people to venture into the building to wander and explore.
The two towers are situated back from Spencer and Collins Streets to provide tasteful interfaces with the Heritage buildings. They also display a repeating square-formant masonry block which creates a cohesive, statement screen.
Reflecting a tight grasp on the concept of permanence and privacy, the screen wraps the hotel’s podium to enable opportunities to rest and recover, alongside showcasing an unobtrusive yet stimulating architectural language at an accessible street level.
Carr associate director David Brooks explains how the task of simultaneously separating and combining the user experience was a rewarding challenge.
“You don’t want the end user to see there’s a complexity to the site. It’s designed to feel natural and effortless,” says Brooks.
Perforated screens filter light and views from within internal spaces such as hotel rooms, lobby and a rooftop terrace. This screen also articulates a singular expression, offers reprieve on the bustling streetscape and heroes the Heritage buildings.
Additionally, the harsh solidity of the masonry podium is softened by the sunshade screening of the tower façade that not only presents the building’s various levels, but results in a filigree pattern almost dancing across the building.
623 Collins Street illustrates how deriving inspiration from surrounding Heritage fabric bolsters a site due to street engagement and urban renewal, rather than size and scale.
Renders supplied by Darc Studio.
Read about how Carr recently appointed Catherine Keys as an associate in commercial interiors.