Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Boys' toys

As reported by a number of architectural news sites, a 388-metre-high hotel and apartment building, which will be the tallest building in the southern hemisphere when completed, has been granted planning approval in Melbourne, Australia.  'Australia 108', designed by local architects Fender Katsaladis is to be built in the Southbank area just a few streets away from another iconic residential skyscraper by the same team, the 297-metre-high Eureka Tower (seen in the foreground of the image at left).

Predictably, the relevant details are scanty.  The proposed accommodation is predominantly residential apartments, but with a few floors dedicated to a six-star hotel.  The different program of the hotel, and an apparent requirement for an easily grasped simile to describe its form, gives the architects the excuse to burst the skin of the otherwise extruded tower, with cantilevered triangular forms that would be legible as the 'Commonwealth Star' of the Australian flag - if they hand out building plans to those who stay there, I assume.

Piecing together diverse sources, most of which report the same press release, does yield a few relevant additional pieces of information.  The construction is intended to be a proprietary prefabricated system developed by Nonda Katsilides, who has also been involved as the developer on many of his previous key projects, as he is here.  It will be interesting to watch if the construction achieves the efficiencies and accelerated completion predicted.  The overshadowing issues with such a large building have been generally discussed only in terms of whether the long finger of darkness will reach as far as the local war memorial, but they are brought together with predicted adverse wind effects by a local academic critic, questioning whether the approval of a number of skyscrapers in Melbourne will be good for that city's urban environment.

From my perspective, as usual, the available information doesn't address core concerns.  So, for instance in relation to the likely environmental outcomes at street level, I am not so much interested in lining up with the critics in predicting disaster, as with the fact that nobody seems to consider it appropriate to conduct good wind tunnel and CFD studies - or if they have been done, to make them available to answer such questions.  Nor is there any mention of energy efficiency, or any other sustainability considerations in relation to the proposal; in this day and age, that alone is almost unforgivable.

To be honest, no single news item deserves to be privileged with a final link here.  To read more, and to see more images, one might as well google 'Australia 108'.  To go to the project's vacuous web site, click here.


Jessica Li said...

Skyscrapers are impressive structures. But what takes to design a building so tall may only be economy and politics play. Sadly, many of the times architecture is just a form of expression.

Buildings in Melbourne city are generally lower in height than those in Sydney city, what brought them to go ahead to achieve the Southern Hemisphere tallest residential tower Australia 108 which is 388meters over the city?
Where the Melbourne city council had originally opposed the project for fear of overshadowing over the Shrine of Remembrance war memorial, but has now received endorsement from the memorial's trustees and agreed with the planning conditions. Since the taller the building is, the more space is needed for services , the more construction challenges there are. What makes this miserable is that there is no modification of the building, not to mention the change of height, it was suddenly approved.

So what makes it become the approved tallest residential tower might due to the ancient art of 'feng shui'. Australia 108 plays with the principles of feng shui in branding and design, emphasizing '8' that relates to prosperitym abundance and security in the Feng Shui, which the Asian has greatly believed in. For example the name itself(Australia 108), the height (388m) and the numbers of floor (108 storeys) are purposely designed for Asian Cultures.

I personally do not disagree with the feng shui orientated marketing as this could be a smart move for business. Since there are still no word yet on the sustainable strategies included in the design such as solar and wind efficiency and rain water collection etc. that such a supertall tower would obviously impose many impacts on such a compact low rise Melbourne city, it would be great to know if they have already considered these and deal with the problems, making the tower a truly favorable residential building but not solely an indicator of the health of economy.

Talking about the construction that you have mentioned above, I think it would be possible to build it in a short period of time as China is aiming to build the tallest building SkyCityOne ( 838m) in the world in only 90 days. But of course the quality of construction might be sacrificed for speed but the Chinese might have their unique construction method to keep it tall and strong?

Here's the link to a video that explains more about the construction of the SkyCityOne.

Shuo Gu(natalie) said...

The political meaning of the 'Australia 108' seems more important than the function of it. The reason of Build this skyscraper as reported in most media is to make the building to be the tallest buildings in the southern hemisphere. It will be a landmark in Melbourne, which attract people from other countries to visit.
Nowadays, Many cities want to have a landmark high building to draw attention, ignoring how hard to build them and whether they fit in the surroundings or affect people's daily life.
The ' Australia 108' may have a negative effect on the environment and social ecological of Melbourne . In a truly urban setting buildings are not freestanding objects in space but are connected to each other forming continuous blocks of buildings that enclose streets and squares. where people can get together communicate with each other, children can also play in the square , this also a good place to celebrate the festival . The new skyscraper in, may threaten the liveability and vibe and culture that the city has and is known for. And The communication between people would be less; Moreover ,The big building block the sunlight of many other surrounding buildings and streets. People cannot enjoy the sunlight as usual .
For myself , I don't like live in the city full of skyscrapers , like ShangHai in China. The city may looks nice from a distance. But when you walking on the street between skyscraper s , The experience are not good. There are almost no sunshine and feel depress between these tall building. and no street life in there .
Generally speaking , The 'Australia 108' can boost the tourism industry of Melbourne, but may threaten the Livability.