Australia’s tallest building to lead in sustainability

If everything goes to plan, the Green Spine, a $2 billion twin-tower mixed-use skyscraper proposed for Melbourne’s Southbank, won’t just be Australia’s tallest structure. It will also be the world’s biggest building built to Passive House standards.

The dual-tower design was the winning entry in an international competition held by developer Beulah International, which purchased the property last year. A consortium of local Australian firm Cox Architecture and Dutch practice UNStudio submitted the proposal for Green Spine.

The building is a cantilevered structure composed of two towers, both with a twisting geometric glass facade and terracing. Once completed, the larger of the two would become Australia’s tallest skyscraper, topping out at 356.2m.

Atelier Ten has been appointed sustainability and wellbeing consultant for the project. The firm is aspiring to ratings of 6 Star NABERS for the office space, WELL Building Standard for the hotel and 5 Star NABERS for the podium. The residential tower would be benchmarked to Passive House standards, which if achieved could make the project the largest Passive House development in the world.

“The client, Beulah International, put forward an exciting, ambitious brief alongside a high-profile design competition and public symposium with some of the world’s leading architects and local partners – to re-imagine dense vertical living in Melbourne,” says Atelier Ten’s David Ritter.

“There are many challenges to a development like this and Atelier Ten’s input focused on how to create high-quality liveability with a focus on health and wellbeing, ultra-low carbon design and future resilience. The team, led by UNS and Cox Architecture, worked in a highly collaborative way to develop the ‘Green Spine’ concept that weaves these three threads of sustainability thinking into an elegant proposition for the city skyline.”

The twisting spines of the two buildings have been designed to allow a downward dispersion of cool airflow, as well as calm wind in winter and shade in the summer for the plaza area between the two. Both towers will feature green balconies, and according to Beulah, the residential building will be crowned by tower a Future Botanic Garden – a publicly accessible garden in the sky.

Cox Architecture’s Philip Rowe stresses the importance of including green spaces in the buildings, and of animating and activating the Southbank neighbourhood.

“For all of Melbourne’s much-admired built environment, which at its best effortlessly blends both heritage and modernity, it is actually our public spaces and civic infrastructure that makes Melbourne ‘Melbourne’,” he says.

Amid all the excitement, it is worth noting that Green Spine is still in its very early stages – the project is yet to be submitted for planning approval.


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