November 30, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo

Melbourne is likely to see the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere rise 356m above its Southbank arts precinct.

In a $2.7 billion development, the project will include a 220-room  five-star urban resort, a 6,600m2 conference centre plus a 3,000 seat auditorium.

The proposal by developers Beulah International with architecture by Dutch firm UN Studio and Melbourne’s Cox Architecture was chosen from six worldwide applicants by the Victorian government for fast-tracking.

The site on City Road in Southbank will comprise twin towers with the taller tower featuring a rooftop culinary experience and the hotel. There will be four different residential apartment complexes plus offices, childcare facilities, an entertainment centre and 30,000m2 of ground floor retail including “experiential retail” space.

In a tip of the hat to Victoria’s green credentials as the Garden State, the project will feature what is described as “the world’s tallest vertical garden” with specially grown plants covering the facades of the skyscrapers which twist as they rise. The garden is designed to add a cooling effect to the buildings in summer and warm them in winter.

Beulah refer to the project as a “green spine” for Melbourne which will feature public open space on lower floors and terraces with greenery, water, light and health and wellness facilities.

Executive Director of Beulah Adelaine Teh said recent events highlighted the importance of a close connection to nature.

While proximity to Melbourne’s arts scene will no doubt drive residential demand – there are other residential towers nearby in Australia 108 and Eureka Tower – the developers are offering residents a car club which will provide them with access to about 50 vehicles housed onsite in a car-sharing model. The site is currently a BMW showroom.

As a hotel site, it will add to Melbourne’s strength in the arts since there is currently little international five-star accommodation in the precinct apart from Langham Melbourne. Most major hotels are across the Yarra to the north of the CBD or around the convention centre at the southern end of the city.  The closest large convention spaces are at the Crown complex or Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre (MCEC).

A previous skyscraper proposal by the Grollo Group to erect a 560m tower in Docklands failed to attract planning approval, even after project modifications and was eventually abandoned. However with broad government support for the Beulah project, construction is due to commence next year and is scheduled to take five years to complete.