Collins Arch

Community is at the heart of Collins Arch

Designed by Woods Bagot and SHoP Architects, Collins Arch is one of Melbourne’s largest mixed-use skyscrapers filling a whole city block in the central business district and connecting the heart of the city to the Yarra River. The winning scheme for a competition initiated by developer Cbus Property in 2014, Collins Arch explores a fine-grain approach in all aspects of its design, offering a benchmark for engaging community within the city.

Emerging from Melbourne’s historic Colliins Street, the building’s dual structure comprises two tapered towers rising 164 metres: the W Hotel in the eastern tower and residential apartments above commercial offices in the west, connected by an eight-storey skybridge at the top, and a community-focused ground floor area with vibrant laneways and outdoor green spaces that include the new Market Street Park, the city’s first urban park since 1980.

Collins Arch is an exciting project that is revitalising the city in new and interesting ways. More Space caught up with the project’s principle in charge Kate Frear, to talk about its design, the push for buildings “to be far more fine-grained… not just a singular programmatic gesture anymore”, and the magic found in the design narrative.

More Space: Kate, can you describe the area of Melbourne where Collins Arch is located and the intitial design approach?

Kate Frear: It was an area of the city that was a nine-to-five destination and it didn’t have much life outside weekday working hours. The Melbourne City Council has done a lot of work, but it does take the injection of this type of development to really reinvigorate things. Collins Arch is a mixed-use development of over 6,000 square metres, an entire city island block that is very different to a commercial insertion. Here, the integration of the residential tower and the W Hotel give it an intensive human experience on the ground plane which was important to the developer Cbus. I think the other thing that Cbus was really keen to do was to bring this part of the city, and certainly Collins Street which is a premier address, back to a five-star premium-grade commercial address which it has done. Along with the new Olderfleet building down the road, Collins Arch has changed the fabric of the city.

“The design went through a number of iterations from the competition entry but the approach was always about maintaining that open public link to give back to the city.”

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