Future Formation

An Around the Clock Community to Renew Melbourne’s Urban Core

Collins Arch

Comprising a prominent block in the central business district, this development demonstrates how an under-utilized part of the city can be transformed into a vibrant urban community. A collaboration with SHoP Architects, the project greatly expands the district’s network of public spaces, reconnecting the downtown with the Yarra River. Anchoring the site is a pair of tapered 164-meter towers connected by an elevated sky bridge. The dual structure features 184 apartments, a new five-star hotel, nearly 50,000 square meters of WELL-rated offices and 950 square meters of ground-floor retail. The 5-star Greenstar complex is anticipated to receive the Australian Excellence designation for sustainability.

Project details

Viewing it from ground level, this is a building where no roofs are apparent. Starting from the open crown at the apex, the exterior cascades down as a series of stepped terraces that are strategically placed to allow for most of the building to be habitable by people or green roofs. The integration of spandrel bands and soffit materials over the reinforced concrete bones add texture and depth to the façade articulation, permitting a human scale across the surface. The unified design avoids casting a shadow over the river and also draws sunlight into the interiors.

Through vertical stacking, each floor plate has been optimized to dedicate half of the site back to the city as public spaces. The permeable ground plane combines a series of outdoor rooms, a new urban park—Melbourne’s first in 40 years—and programmed edge conditions to create a diversity of experiences for workers, residents and visitors to enjoy. The multi-level retail podium spanning the base of both buildings activates the street frontage on all sides and maintains aesthetic continuity with the surrounding historic façades.

The public realm acted as the main determiner in how people move throughout the towers, as the design played off the benefits of the mixed-use development’s assets and its prime location. The commercial floors occupy the lower and middle portion of the western tower, with a side core that lends flexibility and spaciousness to workplace arrangements. They can be accessed directly from either tower via a twin lobby system.

The five-star hotel and residential suites fill the towers’ namesake arch and the floors above, offering a variety of unit types and sizes, view conditions, unimpeded natural ventilation and daylight. Their range of amenities includes an indoor pool, gym, lounge area, dining facilities, private outdoor terraces adjacent to living areas and a shared sky garden. Embracing the dynamism of their urban amenity, the ground floor entry lobbies are accessed through the courtyard.

Melbourne, Australia
CBUS Property
162,500 sqm
1,749,135 sf
Completion Date
SHoP Architects
OCULUS Landscape
  • 2021 Victorian Architecture Award – The Sir Osborn McCutcheon Award for Commercial Architecture
  • 2022 Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTUBH) – Best Tall Building Award, 100-199 Meters
  • 2022 Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTUBH) – Best Tall Mixed-Use Building Award
  • 2022 International High-Rise Award Long List
Originally published in Architecture Australia Sep/Oct 2021– architectureau.com/magazines/architecture-australia/