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Grimshaw completes first Melbourne office project

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AJ120 practice Grimshaw has revealed its first commercial scheme in Melbourne – an office above a railway station


The nine-storey office block rises 64m above the city’s Southern Cross Station, for which Grimshaw also drew up the masterplan. 

It has been designed to link the docklands area and Melbourne’s business district, while providing pedestrian links to the station below. 

A glazed entrance pavilion holds the stairs and entrance which sit 8m above the ground level. 

The 19,000m2 building features a 360 panel solar farm – the largest on any commercial building in Melbourne. 

The practice has already worked in the city on the 60,000m² Southern Cross Station which completed in 2006.

699 Bourke Street by Grimshaw

699 Bourke Street by Grimshaw

Source: John Gollings

Architect’s view

Construction over rail is becoming more common as Melbourne densifies, presenting tough design and technical challenges. In a typical building construction, basements and footings allow for flexibility in the location of structure and a place to hide bulky plant equipment and services. When building in the air, a new ground plane needs to be constructed and this was done for 699 Bourke Street, with 2m-deep concrete-filled beams that span 20m between supports. Aligned with the western edge of the existing Southern Cross Station roof, this ground plane sits 24m above the train tracks and is the lowest occupied level of 699 Bourke Street. All of the basic services, such as electricity and water, need to rise to this level to enter the plant equipment rooms.

A benefit of overcoming the technical issues is foremost the improved views and daylight; 90% of the office floor is within 12m of the high-performance glazed façade, surpassing a key requirement of the 6 Star Green Star office ratings. Excellent views can be obtained at all levels, with views of the undulating Southern Cross Station roof and Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) to the east, Mount Macedon to the north and Port Philip Bay to the south.

A key feature of 699 Bourke Street is the design of the building’s north façade which prevents glare reflectivity on to the rail yard environment below, mitigating risk to train drivers. To achieve this, Grimshaw led a detailed solar analysis to determine the solar angles and devised an integrated fixed-louvre screen which maintains views while preventing reflections. These louvres are an identifying feature of the north façade, a precise and layered surface which diffuses light. 

699 Bourke Street by Grimshaw

699 Bourke Street by Grimshaw

Source: John Gollings

Project data 

Location Melbourne, Australia
Type of project commercial
Developer Mirvac
Tenant AGL Energy Limited (AGL)
Architect Grimshaw
Masterplan architect Grimshaw with Jackson Architecture
Completion date December 2015
Gross internal floor area 19,000m2

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