City of Melbourne Design Review Panel

So the @cityofmelbourne has created a Design Review Panel, who are going to provide advice on selected projects, hopefully improving them in some way – there’s 10 members and 18 experts, lots of great names, can’t fault that, but remains to be seen what kind of improvements they might actually generate – the size and shape of big projects in the cbd are usually just the maximum allowable envelope, so will they just be improving the look ? (which is good to have though). Will they actually make better projects, with more interesting uses, more public interfaces, more ‘giving back’ ? Better heritage outcomes ? (given new guidelines are definitely against facadism). I’ve chosen some of my least favourite recent towers, the first is actually by @fenderkatsalidis, and Karl Fender is to be an advisor on a second committee, Design Excellence, which is going to propose possible wider improvements – such as design competitions, which is often used in Sydney, which seems to result in very restrained, attractive designs, with lots of public spaces at ground level, but just a bit samey to me.

Speaking of having a Design Review Panel, here’s what I call the #fivestepsisters on upper Elizabeth Street, a bunch of towers mostly permitted by #MathewGuy (the first one up front was #JustinMadden) each one a different cladding but pretty much matching in form, a row of pencil towers on small sites (pics 2018-2014, there’s two more now). Since then there’s now requirements for a podium and 5m setbacks all round (but on corners not till the 22nd floor), and for some public benefit to get the max height, and that ground levels must have public functions, not be all service covers or carpark entrys. So this kind of crowded towers won’t happen again. I quite like the facades of many of these, so if they were just better shapes, maybe the Design Review Committee would say they’re ok ? Or perhaps the common will make sure they conform to the new better guidelines. Ps has someone put together an essay as to how these extreme designs came about in the first place ? I have my version, but some research would be good.

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