Archive | February, 2011

Residents buy off-plan to tower above Chatswood

9 Feb

9 Feb 11 by Kat Adamski

CHATSWOOD’S newest apartment blocks will soar 260m above sea level – the North Shore’s highest.  The $450 million Chatswood Interchange project, which went into receivership in 2008, is back on track after it was revived by the Sydney’s Galileo Group.

The highest of the three towers would be 140m, which would make it the North Shore’s tallest.

Liquidator CRI Chatswood sold the rights to build the three towers to Galileo, which teamed with ISPT, one of Australia’s largest unlisted property funds, to buy the site late last year.

The consortium is relying on off-the-plan apartment sales so construction can start on two of the towers as early as June.

They will be built above Chatswood station.

In the past, Willoughby Council general manager Nick Tobin has been critical of the site, saying the State Government had approved the residential towers without contributing to the public services and amenities that 1000 residents would need.

Metro View (31 storeys) and Metro Spire (42 storeys) will be built on the north-eastern edge of the already completed retail podium, which is unleased.

Together they will provide 292 apartments, with prices from $488,000 for one-bedroom units to a penthouse for $1.725 million.  The third and highest tower, Metro Grand, at 56 storeys, would follow on the western side of the site with 261 apartments.

Willoughby Mayor Pat Reilly said he was disappointed that the residential component was progressing before the retail podium negotiations were finalised.  “(The overall development) was approved by the State Government beyond our control, but we believe the retail component should be the main concern,” Cr Reilly said.

“While council has advocated for an office building, the location of the three towers in the heart of the Chatswood CBD has assisted us in meeting the government’s increased dwelling requirements.”

A display suite at 391 Victoria Ave is open 10am to 4pm daily. Phone 1800 839 883 or see metroresidences.com.au.

Source- http://north-shore-times.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-buy-off-plan-to-tower-above-chatswood/

Link- http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/NEW/NEW03.htm

Melbourne- Stripping the glitter from architecture's 'golden' oldies

7 Feb

SMH February 5, 2011 Julie Szego

Waging a guerilla war against change is actually an attempt to snub history by trying to evade its march.

WHENEVER I am waiting for a green light at the corner of Elizabeth and Grattan streets in Parkville, my gaze is drawn to the former Ampol House. The building, now called the Elizabeth Towers Hotel, has a quirky, slightly space-age vibe that inspires mild curiosity. The corner tower, framed by blue tiling, curves around what is apparently Melbourne’s tallest concrete spiral stairway and is crowned with two flagpoles and a neon sign.

Having casually admired the building countless times, I researched its origins and then searched my heart about the prospect of it being razed (we’ll come to why in a tick).

Despite all you’re about to read, when change, with its PowerPoint efficiency, swoops on a thing from the past that helps ground me in the present, I too feel the pain.

It is only natural. But in recent times a healthy regard for heritage, and fierce sense of place, appears to have morphed into a pervasive and crippling anxiety about the future.

Let’s go back to old Ampol House. The National Trust says the 1958 building is the last of its kind, designed in ”a style that appears to belong to the early modernist period of 20 years previously”. In other words, it was always a throwback.

As its original name suggests, the building once housed the headquarters of a major Australian petrol company; initially a pump station was incorporated at ground level. These days it houses nothing and no one.

Melbourne University, which owns the site, wants to knock the building down to make way for the $210 million Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. As its name, which carries that of an Australian Nobel laureate, suggests, the proposed addition to Parkville’s medical research precinct is about luring top scientists to Victoria, pooling expertise with the aid of proximity, being battle-ready for the next pandemic, and a host of other noble objectives. Complications, procedural and political, have dogged this project, but the point is the institute can’t get off the ground.

The council has blocked the proposal, largely on heritage grounds. The university, which says it stands to lose millions in federal funding, has been forced to fight the matter through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

So which would you choose? The institute or the architectural anachronism from the heritage B-list? An investment that may help save many lives or saving the life of one vacant building?

It should be a no-brainer. But in fairness to the council, its decision is in perfect harmony with the zeitgeist.

The Save Our Suburbs movement of the 1990s has now splintered into cells of rescue workers, ready for deployment at the first ominous murmur from developers or public officials. So much appears to need saving from the tide of change: the railway gate and the bloke who opens it, the bridge, the pier, the point, the strip of grass, the hotel, the sauce and its bottle.

Even if their numbers are small, protest groups are changing the conversation.

Consider the state Liberal Party’s pre-election pitch, which was strikingly conservative in a literal sense: protect Melbourne from the ”wrecking ball”, return the rattling W-class trams to commuter routes, resume alpine cattle grazing, review the council proposal for a new boat ramp and breakwater facility at Mallacoota, reopen the gates at the previously hazardous railway level crossing in New Street, Brighton.

This week I asked a spokeswoman for Planning Minister Matthew Guy whether he supports building the Doherty Institute on the Parkville site – his department being a respondent to the VCAT proceedings. She never responded.

Of course, Labor once drank from the same rusty well. A folksy 2006 press release from then planning minister Rob Hulls declared the Barwon Heads bridge – rotting, cracking and splitting but boosted by its 15 minutes of SeaChange fame – had been ”saved”. Four years later, the bridge controversy rumbles on and helped make a casualty of the local Labor MP.

All of the following are givens: Melbourne could do a lot better at adapting what it already has for new uses, an engaged and passionate community is a good one, the mistakes of the past should be avoided, give up too much of what’s known and trusted and we risk losing our bearings and our sanity as well. But waging a guerilla war against change is actually an attempt to snub history by trying to evade its march.

And that’s why planning schemes or heritage codes aren’t the point. There’s a deeper crisis of faith involved. I’ve tended to assume that a loss of belief in the future, in the whole notion of progress, drives the compulsion to pickle our cities. But then recently a friend was bemoaning a plan to upgrade her suburban railway station. ”I love its unfinished character,” she said. ”If the plan goes ahead, it’ll be time for me to move.”

OK, she’s a middle class resident of a well-to-do-suburb who can afford to romanticise crumbling infrastructure. Still, could her attitude reflect a more general unease?

Maybe fear of success – the prospect of arriving, of things being ”finished” – is the real neurosis of these privileged times. After all, if the new bridge works a treat, if the trams run faster, if the institute gets built then even more people will want to come here, right? And that, of course, would only bring more change.

Source- http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/stripping-the-glitter-from-architectures-golden-oldies-20110204-1agzn.html

Statement of Significance
The former Ampol Building, designed by Bernard Evans & Associates, and completed in 1958 is architecturally and historically important at the Regional level.

Architecturally, the building is notable principally for its dramatic glazed circular corner tower, housing Melbourne’s tallest concrete spiral stair. The tower is accentuated by the flanking blue tiled wing walls topped by flagpoles, and neon sign.

Historically, it is of interest as a building that is designed in a style that appears to belong to the early modernist period of twenty years previously, and is by far the last major building designed in this tradition in Victoria. It is also of interest as the headquarters of one of the major petrol companies in Victoria, which were all undergoing great expansion at that time, and for originally incorporating a petrol station at the ground level.