// Merchant Square
Footscray, VIC 3011
/ commercial-public, high-rise /
The 17 hectare ‘Hopkins Street Precinct’ is undergoing a major urban renewal process to make way for Melbourne’s growth and gentrification of obsolete industrial areas. The subject site is approximately 5000m² and sits within a 13,000m² master plan, which is to be staged in three separate phases. In addition, the site has the largest footprint in the overall precinct master plan. As a result of this anticipated growth, our client’s provided us with two basic principles for the brief which were to be expanded at a later stage. The first was that the proposal had to incorporate programs and facilities beyond residential inner city apartment dwellings. The second was that the first phase of the project had to exemplify design excellence with a very unique and contemporary architectural language that would create an international landmark building and form a visual gateway to the precinct. As part of formulating the brief with the client, our role was to research the demography and types of facilities and programs that would work best for this particular project. Our research data concluded that residents aged 24-38 was the target demographic for this a project. The brief also required us to design a building that would interact with the local context, engage transport facilities, and embrace views of the city, ocean and local Melbourne attractions. Our objective was to introduce typical residential programs in the suburban context and try to incorporate them into an urban tower typology. Health conscious and lifestyle orientated facilities where key priorities for the project. Our client instructed us to introduce programs and facilities that are unique to the area and would not be offered by competing projects within the precinct. Given the target age demographic and our key research findings, we concluded that we wanted to expand on the traditional typical fitness and entertainment facilities that are common to projects of this nature. The site footprint for stage 1 and 2 is roughly 100 × 100 meters which provided us with exact dimensions for an Olympic sized running track, which is incorporated along the perimeter of the stage 1 and 2 podium.
The architectural expression is divided into two categories; the podium and the tower. The podiums are expressed as a singular elements clad in vertical louvers that create a solid appearance when viewed on oblique angles, which in turn provides a strong base for the towers above. The expression of the louvers at street level create low-rise silhouette shapes that blur the between suburb and city in the Footscray area. The towers are designed as fluid planar shapes that respond to the surrounding ocean and river context. The smooth forms soften the building edges and provide a sense of movement to the towers when circulating around the precinct. In elevation the towers shift rhythmically as the mass rises to give a swaying effect that is common among all the towers and stages.