UNStudio + COX architecture selected to build australia's tallest skyscraper

UNStudio + COX architecture selected to build australia's tallest skyscraper

UPDATE: on august 15, 2018, it was announced that UNStudio and COX architecture had won the ‘southbank by beulah’ competition to build a new skyscraper in melbourne, australia. the design is defined by a pair of twisting towers organized around a ‘green spine’ of vertically networked platforms, terraces, and verandas. this configuration also results in porous city views and improved contextual links. the proposal was competing against entries from other high-profile firms, including OMA, MAD architects, and coop himmelb(l)au. see the design in more detail below.

UNStudio melbourne skyscraper
all images courtesy of UNStudio



UNStudio and COX architecture’s design for the mixed-use tower integrates a host of programs — including recreation, retail, offices, residential, hotel, and exhibition spaces — within the building’s vertically stepped public infrastructure. a series of ‘spatial frames’, which mediate between indoor and outdoor space, provide a porousness at street level, while simultaneously connecting the upper floors with the streetscape by expanding the public realm.

UNStudio melbourne skyscraper
the design is defined by a pair of twisting towers organized around a ‘green spine’



the primary characteristic of the design is its ‘green spine’, an architectural element that incorporates a multitude of functions in one fluid gesture. in addition to serving as a vertical extension of the southbank boulevard, the spine also acts as the key organizational element of the building — housing a variety of amenities and linking all of the towers’ programs.

UNStudio melbourne skyscraper
the podium contains a marketplace, retail and entertainment spaces, and a BMW experience center



importantly, the podium and its rooftop park are reserved for public use. the podium contains a marketplace for both visitors and residents; retail and entertainment spaces with their own balconies and terraces; and a BMW experience center. stairs and platforms lead visitors from street level, through the retail and entertainment programing, to a public garden at the top of the podium.

UNStudio melbourne skyscraper
stairs and platforms lead visitors from street level through the retail and entertainment programing



the scheme has also been designed as a cultural platform for the southbank arts precinct. ‘as melbourne is the cultural capital of australia, our design proposal for southbank by beulah will enhance this profile and give the city a new place in which its art and culture can be displayed for the world to see,’ the architects explain. ‘the various podium terraces offer platforms for temporary performance art, sculptures, light installations, and other exhibitions.’

UNStudio melbourne skyscraper
the tower is primarily made up of offices, hotel rooms, and residences



conceived as a ‘vertical urban landscape’, the tower’s lower story and mid-story levels are draped in smaller scale shrub planting, while towards the upper levels, tree planting is introduced within winter gardens. finally, the ‘gardens of the future’ are situated at the top of the residential tower. the planting absorbs noise and air pollution, while tall eucalyptus trees facilitate light. floors textured with forest ferns provide a cool atmosphere even on hot summer days.

UNStudio melbourne skyscraper
residences enjoy access to the private, semi-public, or public outdoor green spaces



above the podium, the tower is primarily made up of offices, hotel rooms, and residences. office spaces are designed to vary from floor to floor in order to offer flexibility of use. here, open balconies and gardens provide meeting points for collaboration and socializing. meanwhile, the hotel rooms and residences enjoy access to the private, semi-public, or public outdoor green spaces that run from street level to the top of the towers.

UNStudio melbourne skyscraper
towards the upper levels, tree planting is introduced within winter gardens

UNStudio melbourne skyscraper
the competition’s winning design will be announced on august 8, 2018



UPDATE: this project has been shortlisted in the ‘future projects – commercial mixed-use’ category at the 2019 world architecture festival.



project info:


name: southbank by beulah
client: beulah international (real estate developer)

location: melbourne southbank – 118 city road
building surface: 253,485 sqm GFA
building site: 6,191 sqm

program: residential, retail & food precinct, hotel, cultural integration, entertainment, BMW experience center, public green space, discovery spaces, offices, childcare facilities
status: competition entry


UNStudio: ben van berkel, caroline bos with jan schellhoff, sander versluis, milena stopic and julia gottstein, marco cimenti, leon hansmann, perrine planche, olga kovrikova, carleigh shannon

COX, melbourne: philip rowe, ian sutter, eliza suffren, pete sullivan, tommy miller, michael murdock, alex leiva, noushin atrvash, will cassel, rebekah collins


advisors —
executive architect: COX, melbourne
cultural placemaking: future city, london
lead artist: studio drift, amsterdam
sustainability & well-being: atelier 10, melbourne
landscape architects: grant associates
traffic & accessibility: GTA consultants
engineering: arup, melbourne

  • Very elegant until they meet the ground. The bases feel cluttered.

    steve hassler says:

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