Plans for Melbourne’s new biophilic offices

Friday 8 Feb 2019

An entire block in central Melbourne encompassing council offices and the former Commonwealth Bank building would be remodelled under plans being considered by the City of Melbourne.

The AU$232 million Bourke Street Precinct Redevelopment project, to be designed by Designinc, would see the aging Council House 1 replaced with new premises, while the heritage-listed Commonwealth Bank building would be refurbished. A series of new public spaces, connected by a series of laneways, would also be created, including a multi-tiered meeting space known as “the forum.”

Melbourne mayor Sally Capp said the redevelopment would create a “new landmark for Melbourne” that would set the standard in terms of sustainable urban design.

Designinc said the proposed building’s facade expression would “reference the experience of approaching and entering a forest.” “The Little Collins Street and Royal Lane upper facades are envisioned as the canopy layer of the forest, expressed in a colour and material tone to reflect weathered bark,” the statement reads. “In contrast, the podium layers and public commons represent the understory, with a natural timber scaffold structure.”

Designinc’s design statement says that the forum would be designed in line with biophilic principles. “[It] is envisaged as a space that blurs the boundaries between indoors and outdoors,” the statement reads. “The aim is to connect people to nature and provide an uplifting sanctuary for those using the space that has a positive impact on wellbeing and health.”

The double-height space would feature extensive planting, use local, natural materials and feature lighting modes that could be set to mimic daylight to optimise circadian health. Designinc said the buffer garden would “collect and absorb water, harvest the eastern sunlight and provide naturally ventilated work spaces.”

Subject to approval, the development is expected to begin construction in early 2020 for a 2024 completion.


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