QV1 Apartments

QV1 Apartments

“…for his first foray into apartment tower design … (Wardle) devised a building with fuzzy edges or, at least, with a less defined silhouette than your regular city tower.” Megan Backhouse

Project Description

Unlike the conventional repetition of rectangular floors, this 44-storey residential tower is the sum of three distinct irregularly-shaped floor plates which, in several combinations, has resulted in unique sculptural façades at each end of the building.

The tower, comprising 458 one, two and three bedroom apartments over retail tenancies, is one part of Grocon’s redevelopment of the former Queen Victoria Hospital site – an entire city block in the heart of Melbourne.

Relationship of its Site and Context

QV is like the city at large writ small across the breadth of a city block.  The east and west ends of the tower create a sculptural presence as the apartments are stacked like an unruly, frayed tower of individual houses.  

The tower’s proximity to the BHP tower was a key relationship and pivotal to the design concept.  The views from the BHP tower were analysed, and the upper level floorplates of the QV1 tower cut back, allowing these views a greater aperture.  This eventually resulted in a successful planning permission for additional storeys, resulting in a greater yield for the developer.

Architectural Expression of the Concept

The building’s long axis presses the apartment floors hard between the sheer linear northern façade and the contoured southern face.  Irregular ends cantilever freely beyond the even format of the structural grid.

Issues of civic scale, from the distant views of the city from the north, to the intermediate, to the close-at-hand, were primary generators of the design.  The intention was to evaporate the edges of the mass – to re-open an investigation of the tall building type, and avoid closed, simple monolithic form.  Working with colour and reflectivity, and horizontal rather than vertical banding were the responses to the distant north view of the tower.

Perception of the intermediate scale was handled with the use of finer detailed elements, for example the purple aluminium hand rails to the balconies, which emphasise and augment the fraying of the east and west edges with movement back and forth.  The south façade has a pixelated pattern based on a cloud, rendered in different shades of coloured aluminium and levels of reflectivity in the staggered windows.  This façade scheme was also in response to the natural variations of tone in the anodising process of aluminium; it is not possible to guarantee a consistent colour over such a large production run.

Where the building touches the ground, residential experience came into play.  Canopies of folded metal provide shelter and, by extending past the site boundaries, indicate the entry points from the street.  Materials, detail and tactility were considered at this intimate scale.  In the two ground floor entry lobbies, muted raw concrete and dark or light coloured plywood fins are counterbalanced by brilliantly lit walls saturated with colour.  With matching coloured glass, the entry lobbies are easily identifiable and create a dramatic entry experience for residents and visitors.

Organisation of Spaces and Functions Inside and Out

The tower is divided into two halves, east and west, each with a distinct lobby area.  Doors separate the long, continuous corridors at each level.  Windows terminate each end of the corridor, contributing to the amenity of this space.  

The interiors of the apartments are designed to accentuate open ends, with accent colours highlighting manipulated elements. Four colour schemes were available to the purchasers.  Each scheme has a bold colour incorporated into the cabinetwork as well as the entry door to the apartment; the different coloured doors help to activate shared corridor spaces.

A pool and gymnasium at the roof level has spectacular views over Melbourne’s northern suburbs to the mountains beyond.

The building presents a façade to Russell Street unlike any other in Melbourne.

Project Partners
John Wardle Architects