623 Collins Street is a 42-level project sitting opposite Southern Cross Station and occupies the corner of Collins and Spencer Streets. The design looks to its historic surroundings for its architectural inspiration, seeking to engage with the existing site, its context and character to create new and meaningful places that enhance these past identities in a contemporary way.
Located at 607-623 Collins Street and 66-70 Spencer Street, the site was purchased by Sterling Global and includes two heritage-listed buildings flanking the proposal, the State Savings Bank and the Batman’s Hill Hotel. Far from being considered an inconvenience, these historic buildings provide the launching place for the towers and relate to a more human-scale experience.
“Introducing a new architectural language to the area, the design for 623 Collins Street aims to revive the historic site with a contemporary yet considered response. The new dual tower is recessed above the heritage façade and features separate entrances for residential and commercial spaces, providing an elevated and distinctive arrival experience,” shares Managing Director Chris McCue.
Through Carr’s close collaboration with heritage consultants Lovell Chen, 623 Collins Street seeks to re-establish a greater feeling of form, scale and rhythm to the precinct. Showcasing three podiums and two tower forms, a strong vertical language is established with a sense of scale promoted through the recurring square detail motif in the screen perforation. This increased design rhythm creates an engaging architectural reading to the street, which has been diminished with the demolition and in-fill of contemporary buildings.
Sitting on a constrained footprint with two heritage buildings, 623 Collins Street is an exercise in delivering architectural precision. Unlike conventional mixed-use projects with broader ground planes, 623 Collins Street must service different users of the hotel, residential apartments, restaurants, and rooftop bar, in a passive and effortless manner without the endless luxury of space.
623 Collins Street will complete the revitalisation of the western CBD end of Collins Street with a high-quality mixed-use development that is in line with CBD’s shift towards becoming a multi-use destination at the heart of transport networks with access to a wide range of amenities, as well as cultural, sporting and educational institutions.”
To mediate these differing user requirements, the central in-between space acts as a pedestrian entry point for most users, ending in a bifurcation towards the restaurant, office, bar and hotel. The residential entry is more tailored for residents as opposed to visitors, with a sense of distraction and exclusivity at the forefront. The design ensures that various uses are afforded independent identities within the overall ground plane but all invite engagement and activation with the street.
The new in-fill podium building also enhances the public realm’s connection. By lifting the form, the ground plane is allowed to extend into the building, expanding the threshold between public and private space to invite exploration and discovery. As an entirely permeable building, urban renewal will be activated through this podium by drawing people to the site to enjoy the building’s different offerings.
Looking up at the towers, which are set back from Spencer and Collins Street to provide sensitive interfaces with the heritage buildings, a repeating square-format masonry block creates a unifying and monumental screen. Balancing the ideas of permanence and privacy, this screen wraps the hotel’s podium, allowing refuge and respite while providing a restrained but engaging architectural language at street level.
The perforated screens also control and filter light and views from the internal spaces, such as the hotel rooms, lobby and rooftop terrace. The screen provides a distinctive singular expression and a calm break on the eclectic streetscape. This establishes a strong identity that allows the heritage buildings to be celebrated. In contrast to the solidity of the masonry podium, the tower façade is deliberately light with sunshade screening showcasing the levels and creating a filigree pattern across the building.
A new and unified identity emerges in 623 Collins Street. Carr has drawn upon the richness of the heritage fabric to craft a development that will make its presence known through street engagement and urban renewal, not sheer physicality of size.
You don’t want the end user to see there’s a complexity to the site. It’s designed to feel natural and effortless. You need to simultaneously separate and combine the user experience so that neither interferes. It’s this element that makes 623 Collins Street a challenge, but a very interesting one at that.”