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Australia 108
Australia 108 Southbank Melbourne.jpg
Australia 108
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Alternative names 70 Southbank Boulevard
Record height
Tallest in Melbourne since 2019
Preceded by Eureka Tower
General information
Status Complete
Location 70 Southbank Boulevard, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Construction started 2015
Topped-out November 2019
Completed 2020
Cost ~AUD$900 million
Height
Architectural 316.7 m (1,039.0 ft)
Tip 318.7 m (1,045.6 ft)
Top floor 312.4 m (1,024.9 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 100 plus 1 underground
Lifts/elevators 11

Australia 108 (previously 70 Southbank Boulevard) is a residential supertall skyscraper in the Southbank precinct of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Having topped out in November 2019, it became the tallest building in Australia by roof height, surpassing the Eureka Tower, and the second-tallest building in Australia by full height, surpassed by Q1 Tower. The World Class Land development project consists of a 316.7 m (1,039 ft) tall apartment building with 1,105 apartments over 100 floors. Construction of the revised Fender Katsalidis Architects–design by Brookfield Multiplex commenced in 2015, and was completed in 2020.

Prior to its current form, plans were initially for a 226 m (741 ft) tall residential building with 72 floors. In 2012, these plans were revised and resubmitted in favour of a design with a height of 388 m (1,273 ft) and 108 storeys. This proposal was approved by the State Government in March 2013; however, it was shelved four months later after it struggled to meet conditions imposed by government authorities including VicRoads and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Site

The 70 Southbank Boulevard site is situated on the corner of City Road and Southbank Boulevard in the Southbank precinct of Melbourne. The land comprised two separately titled buildings, both of which had two levels. The buildings had a total net lettable area of 2,828 m2 (30,440 sq ft), on a land area of 2,642 m2 (28,440 sq ft).

The site was purchased by architecture firm Fender Katsalidis Architects in April 2008, for A$14.2 million, after the original tenancies ran an expression of interest campaign.

Initial proposal

Design

In 2009, plans were submitted by Fender Katsalidis Architects to the City of Melbourne for an A$400 million residential building to be built on the 70 Southbank Boulevard site. In its original proposal, the building, 70 Southbank Boulevard, was planned to be 226 m (741 ft) in height and consist of 532 residential apartments, six levels of office space, a fresh food market and other retail amenities, spanning 72 floors. The building was designed to replicate the nearby Eureka Tower, also a Fender Katsalidis development. Nonda Katsalidis noted the similarities with the Eureka Tower:

Eureka Tower, which 70 Southbank Boulevard, has been replicated on from an architectural perspective is well known as part of the fabric of life in central Melbourne [...] We wanted to re-create elements of what we had achieved at Eureka and apply it to 70 Southbank Boulevard. It’s a brilliantly located site with a huge variety of optional uses and tremendous potential for a developer to shape Melbourne’s skyline with their own brush.

Approval

The building development had been approved by then–Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden on 21 April 2010, a decision which received backlash from the City of Melbourne council, dubbing the development as "excessively high" and "at odds with the City of Melbourne's height guidelines for the area". In May 2010, the council lodged an appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to have the building permit overturned, asserting that the building surpassed the 100 m (330 ft) height limit in the area's planning scheme. VCAT rejected the appeal; and noted that the planning scheme did not specify a maximum height.

In July 2012, the site was put up for sale through an international public expression of interest campaign and was listed at A$25 million, to allow the Fender Katsalidis partners time to "go in different directions".

Second proposal

Design

In November 2012, Katsalidis revealed revised plans for the building which would have seen it "super-sized" to 388 m (1,273 ft) in height, with 108 floors. The new proposal incorporated the previous plans, but went on to include fifty more residential apartments (totalling 600), a six-star hotel with 288 rooms, and a two-storey star-shaped sky lobby with restaurants and bars.

The hotel would have occupied levels 83–102, with the 83rd and 84th floors having a star-shaped sky lobby which would have "burst" 9 m (30 ft) outside of the building, similar to the Eureka Tower's Edge, only larger. The Commonwealth Star on the Flag of Australia was used as inspiration for the "starburst".

Fender Katsalidis Architects incorporated the Chinese system of geomancy, known as Feng shui, when developing the new proposal. The building's name, height and top floor all contain the number 8, which "relates to prosperity, abundance and security".

Approval

Australia 108 design
A render of the second design of Australia 108 which was initially approved for construction, but later cancelled.

The new proposal was subjected to a second planning application process for approval. On 5 March 2013, the City of Melbourne council voted to oppose the development, citing it as an "over-development of the site". The Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, a Shrine of Remembrance trustee, argued that the building would exceed the council's planning scheme in the area by almost 300 m (980 ft) and it could potentially create a 1.7 km (1.1 mi) shadow over the Shrine of Remembrance. However, the Shrine's CEO, Denis Baguley, believed otherwise, stating, "I don't believe there are issues of overshadowing that will concern us." VCAT had already approved the project, but the final decision was up to Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

Despite concerns, the project received its final approval on 18 March 2013 by Guy, who went on to describe the development as "a magnificent addition to Melbourne's skyline. Australia 108 will be a signature development that will define Melbourne for decades to come."

The project was put on the market on 20 April 2013.

Construction

Construction on the $600 million development was to have commenced in 2014, and would have taken three to four years to build, with completion around 2018. The construction was expected to have created 300 jobs in construction and hospitality industries. Upon completion, Australia 108 would have become the tallest building in Australia – surpassing The Gold Coast's Q1 at 323 m (1,060 ft) and Melbourne's Eureka Tower at 297 m (974 ft) – and would have therefore been the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, and the only such building to have over 100 floors.

Cancellation

In April 2013, it was reported that Australia 108 would have infringed on federal regulations protecting aircraft safety, known as PANS-OPS, particularly in regard to aircraft departing and arriving at Essendon Airport, located some 13 km (8.1 mi) to the north of the project site. At the time, it was claimed that the tower would have extended 13 m (43 ft) into Essendon Airport's flight path "envelope," whose southerly approach requires a 373 m (1,224 ft) height limit to any potential obstruction within 15 km (9.3 mi) of the airfield. When asked about this situation, architect Nonda Katsilidis claimed that the flight paths would not be a problem, and that a technical solution could be drawn up if required. He also stressed that any design changes would be "minimal".

Despite this, the project (in its original form) was officially shelved in July 2013, following its inability to meet a "hybrid of requirements" from authorities such as VicRoads and CASA - the latter of which stated that there was "no flexibility" to approve a building that breached height restrictions. Consequently, Planning Minister Guy held talks with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, regarding the height restrictions on inner city buildings.

Current project

Australia 108 proposal 3
A render of Australia 108 in its current form.

The project was bought for approximately $30 million by Singapore developer Aspial Corporation, during late 2013. Plans were later resubmitted to the Department of Planning in 2014, for a new proposal; a 100-storey, 317 m (1,040 ft)-tall apartment tower, to comprise 1,105 apartments (a gain of 500 from the previous proposal). The hotel from the superseded design was removed from the plans, making the project solely residential. The star-shaped sky lobby feature from the previous proposal will also be incorporated in the design of the building, albeit used for various purposes (as opposed to a public observation), and will be located on levels 69 through to 71.

When completed, the skyscraper will become Australia's tallest building by roof height and second-tallest building by total height (surpassed by the Q1 at 322.5 m (1,058 ft). It will also be the southern hemisphere's only building with 100 levels.

Approval

Approval for the newest proposal was granted by Minister Guy on 25 June 2014.

Construction

The initial aspect of the construction phase, demolition and site preparation, was completed in early 2015. Construction on the $900 million residential skyscraper itself, commenced in October 2015, with work on the skyscraper's foundation having concluded in July 2016. In September 2015, Aspial Corporation announced their formal appointment of Brookfield Multiplex as the main contractor of Australia 108. Kone, an international engineering and service company, secured an order to supply 13 elevators to Australia 108 in March 2016. By April 2018, the building's core reached its 50th level – marking the halfway point of the skyscraper. In November 2019, the skyscraper had topped-out at level 100; as such, it became Melbourne's tallest building and Australia's second tallest building.

With an expected completion date of mid-2020, the skyscraper will undergo construction in 5 stages:

Stages Description Completion
1 up to level 40; 491 apartments late 2018
2 up to level 56; 252 apartments mid 2019
3 up to level 66; 162 apartments mid 2019
4 up to level 86; 120 apartments early 2020
5 up to final level (100); 80 apartments mid 2020

Apartments

A penthouse spread across the 100th floor will be the "tallest" home in the southern hemisphere. In April 2015, it was sold for A$25 million – an Australian record – to a businessman based in China. By July 2015, almost all of the apartments were sold. In October 2015 only 33 apartments of the original 1,105 still remained on the market. The cheaper apartments on the lower storeys sold for $450,000.

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