A New Vertical Suburb to Hit Melbourne Streets

Designing an excellent residential high-rise requires a great deal of innovation, sustainability and a sense of community, much like what Cottee Parker Architects did with their $550-million ‘vertical suburb’ in Melbourne.

Comprised of four residential high-rise towers, a large podium, retail outlets and car parking, Upper West Side is one of Australia’s greatest inner-city residential developments. Its contribution to sustainability has been recognised with a 4-star Green Star rating for each tower, while locations such as Tower 4’s rooftop garden – the largest in the Southern Hemisphere – provide a gathering space for the community.

As the architect describes it, the sculptural presence of Upper West Side’s towers is analogous to sentinels guarding the city’s centre. They face and define Hoddle’s grid of streets and step around the corner of Flinders and Lonsdale parading in full regalia. Like huge canvases, they stand rich with texture, imagery and visual movement that blur the line between built fabric and illusion – demarcating a new part of Melbourne town, a catalyst of urban regrowth.

What building methods were employed?

Traditional construction process incorporating in-situ concrete, precast concrete, steel and glazing. For planting and soil types, there were innovative methods used.

Who are the clients?

A development company that has been operating in Melbourne for decades – Far East Consortium (Australia). They are willing to challenge boundaries and be at the edge of innovation if they can prove a commercial opportunity.

What is unique about the project?

The project is unique for its size, its diversity, and its amenity; enabling it to be a catalyst for new urban residential growth and lifestyle opportunities.

What sustainable features does it have?

The precinct includes around 2,400 apartments in four high-rise towers and a large podium. There are 35 retail outlets at Ground Level and car parking for approximately 960 cars below ground and in the podium.

All four towers have achieved Green Star Design ratings from the GBCA. Towers 1 through 4 achieved a Green Star – Multi-Res V1 rating, with Tower 1 being awarded the first-ever 4-star Green Star.

Upper West Side was recognised for its innovative sustainable features such as: 

  • Waste recycling chutes
  • The design of water-efficient indoor pools 
  • Energy-efficient double glazing throughout 
  • A podium green roof design, inclusive of a bouldering wall, barbeque, dining and garden areas
  • A grey water harvesting irrigation system to serve the large podium green roof

What were the solutions?

Excellent design, dynamic architectural resolution, lifestyle amenities, spatial properties that build community opportunities.

Whilst being marketed, Upper West Side was the fastest-selling residential precinct in Australia. People were drawn to the project for its size and the amenities & facilities it provides.

Key products used were as follows:

  • Curtain wall glazing of various tints and reflectivity
  • Coloured metal façade panels 
  • Extensive landscaping

What was the project brief?

To maximise the yield on a complex site and to produce architecture that the marketplace would be excited about.

What were the key challenges encountered?

  • The site was complex in shape
  • The site included heritage buildings and components
  • The typical urban design challenges of street walls, fine grain scale of podiums, activation of street and podium faces, the placement and expression of prominent towers, the amenity created both privately and publicly – all critical components in a large development.

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