But a massive mixed-use development promises to provide Melbourne’s most densely populated suburb with the one thing it has always lacked – a green heart – by transforming the site of a former car park into a mixed use activity centre complete with a sprawling 3,700-square-metre public park. The Melbourne Square open space complements the Melbourne City Council plans for the regeneration of Southbank.
The forthcoming master planned Melbourne Square development will comprise six towers – apartment complexes, a hotel, office building and retail precinct – all connected by lush and inviting parkland.
“Southbank has always been popular,” says Andrew Leoncelli, the managing director of selling agent CBRE. “But this development has the capacity to deliver something no other development is doing – metres of incredible landscaped gardens for everyone to enjoy along with retailing, childcare facilities and unrivalled private amenities for the residents.
“All the local residents, not just in our project, but the whole community, will benefit from this incredible green space, which has been sorely lacking in Southbank.”
Multiplex has been appointed to construct the first stage of the development, which will include the park, as well as two residential towers with 1,048 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, private amenities, a new retail precinct featuring the suburb’s first full-line supermarket with specialty retail, cafes and a childcare centre. The next stages will see the construction of a luxury hotel and a commercial office building.
Michael Longmire, General Manager of the project’s developer, OSK Property, says the mixed-use nature of the development would inject the area with a consistent flow of activity throughout the week, while the parkland would provide residents and workers with a place to wind down and relax.
“There’s plenty of apartments, especially in the CBD, where you walk out the door and residents have little to any access to green spaces,” Longmire says. “At Melbourne Square, you walk out of the lobby and you’re in an architecturally designed, landscaped mixed-use environment.
“You have got a parkland and integrated retail experience on your doorstep, offering the very best of Melbourne.”
Inspired by the urban gardens, promenades and piazzas of Europe, the Melbourne Square park will include grassy lawns, pedestrian walkways and a striking water feature made up of cascading steps.
Paul Curry, Associate of Cox Architecture, says the folded and layered nature of the park mimics the folds of the pleated towers themselves. The landscaping, which starts at ground level on Kavanagh Street, rises on a slow incline to the lawns and walkways, before connecting with the level one retail environment at the top of the hill.
“We wanted it to be a new kind of open space and parkland for Melbourne,” Curry says. “We have drawn from great international benchmarks to create a variety of spaces for people – whether it’s the grassy hill for a picnic, the promenades for a walk or the piazzas that are lined with new cafes and retail.”
Designed by Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL), the prominent landscape architects behind the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the park will also include sculptures and other works of art.
“The idea is that this is the edge of the Botanical Gardens and Arts Precinct and can be seen as an extension of it,” says Curry.
The availability of green space extends to the level eight podium connecting the two towers, where Melbourne Square residents will have access to a 35-metre infinity edge pool with secluded gardens surrounding it. Curry says private entertaining pods, inspired by island resorts in Asia and the Pacific, will also provide residents with quiet places to retreat.
“It’s about creating a variety of spaces within the garden for different activities, be it barbecuing, social gatherings, relaxation or yoga on the lawn,” Curry says.
Level 54 includes another indoor infinity edge pool and fully equipped gymnasium, as well as a spa and entertaining areas for residents in the premium and penthouse apartments.
Other amenities include a private cinema, library, dining and lounge facilities, music room, entertainment room and golf simulator rooms.
Curry says the masterplan for Melbourne Square, with its parkland, green space and amenities, was intended to encourage interaction between residents, and to make the development feel like a neighbourhood.
“I hope that people see this for what it’s trying to create, a real sense of community and wellness,” he says. “There will certainly be a lot of things to do.”
Longmire says the project reflects a “new way of Melbourne living”, one that emphasises the importance of a diverse, energetic and convenient urban lifestyle – without sacrificing on outdoor living.
“You’ve got the accessibility to the city as well as the arts and sports precincts. You’ve got high-quality amenities and interior finishes. You’ve got the perfect combination of convenience and green space,” he says. “It will be the kind of environment where you don’t really have to leave.”