Southbank by Beulah: Australia’s future tallest residential tower on track for development
Unanimous support from the City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne Committee last year, the Victorian State Government has “green lit” to one of Melbourne’s most ambitious and forward-thinking projects to date, the $2 billion Southbank by Beulah.
Led by Melbourne developer Beulah, the announcement was a welcome relief amid current economic turbulence, with the project set to generate more than 4,700 jobs.
Upon completion of the build, 3,250 new ongoing direct jobs will be generated across multiple industries including office, retail, entertainment, hospitality and child care, ultimately growing the working population of Southbank by 8 per cent.
On track to become Australia’s tallest tower at 365 metres high, approval from the Minister for Planning The Hon. Richard Wynne signifies a major vote of confidence in the overall concept and future of Southbank.
Conceptualised alongside acclaimed Dutch firm UNStudio and local firm Cox Architecture, the permit will now allow Beulah to officially transform the current BMW site into an unprecedented, world-class vertical village spanning a total of 270,000 sqm.
An extensive process to date — including the initial Southbank by Beulah global architecture competition — Beulah Managing Director Jiaheng Chan said the project team has been overwhelmed by the support from the official government bodies.
“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to both the Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne for their endorsement of Southbank by Beulah, which we hope will play a significant role in Melbourne’s economic recovery over the coming years.
“Southbank by Beulah will transform the way Melburnians work, live, learn, revitalise and play — it will set a global benchmark for an unprecedented lifestyle hub that caters to present and future generations and will assist in the future growth of Melbourne and its vision to become a truly global smart city.
“Discussions have already begun with leading global brands in the hospitality, retail and
– Jiaheng Chan, MD Beulah International
cultural sectors who are looking for a transformative project of this calibre.”
Lodged in August 2019, the approved application outlines plans to offer users an
unprecedented connectedness to nature within an urban environment.
Envisioned as a vertical mini-metropolis, Southbank by Beulah will comprise four
distinct collections of private residences, public and green spaces, rooftop sky garden, town hall, commercial offices, a five-star urban resort, childcare centre, a health and wellness precinct, arts and culture spaces and
programs, as well as world-class experiential retail, all within two twisting terraced forms.
The spine twists into a series of outdoor spaces and green devices along the façades of the two towers, paying homage to Melbourne’s title of The Garden City, symbolically bridging the iconic Royal Botanic Gardens with Melbourne’s Arts Precinct.
Pocket parks will be a focal point throughout the building, connecting neighbourhoods within the residential tower, providing residents with a sense of community and a place to relax, before culminating in a landscaped journey to the publicly accessible rooftop sky garden.
Construction is forecast to commence next year and will take approximately 5 years to complete.
Interview With Mr Jiaheng Chan,
Managing Director, Beulah International
TAE: Why are you so driven and so passionate about achieving the tallest residential and hotel tower in Australia?
JC: For our team, we never set out with the intention to create the tallest tower in Australia. Rather, our vision was (and still is) to transform the way Melburnians work, live, learn, revitalise and play.
In order to achieve our vision and impact, each of the components needed to have a certain scale and with a limitation on the site area this eventually added up, resulting in the tallest tower in Australia.
We want this building to set a global benchmark as an unprecedented lifestyle hub that caters to present and future generations and will assist in the future growth of Melbourne and its vision to become a truly global smart city.
TAE: What in both your backgrounds have led you to his moment in your careers?
JC: Adelene and I have strong core values centred around our faith and passion for transformational change. Throughout both our careers we have been supported by incredible mentors — often captains of their industries respectively — that reflect these personal values.
Through their generosity and guidance this help has given us so much confidence to continue on this journey we are on and to maintain drive to push the boundaries of what is possible.
Adelene has always been driven by the mindset that your dreams must be bigger than yourself, if that dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough — I think this perfectly sums up Beulah and our careers so far.
TAE: Up to the point of achieving planning approvals were their moments of doubt that an approval was possible? What were those moments like?
JC: The overall process so far has certainly been a combination of emotions. There’s always going to be a sense of excitement combined with a little hesitation when you begin working towards something new
Compared to our previous projects, the scale and the level of complexity are unparalleled.
We believe that by bringing life into the area via a hyper mixed-use building this will enliven the precinct – not just during business hours, but 24/7 – attracting different users throughout the day and night with its varied programs.
Rather than quickly developing standard residential or commercial towers, we want to create something that truly transforms the city and solves issues within the urban pedestrian realm – this is key.
In order to do this, we are bringing to life an activated ground floor plane that responds to its urban context, where the form and function elevates experience on a human scale from the ground floor, all the way up through to the podium, then the two towers.
Integrating into its surroundings, the building’s form will synchronise seamlessly with Southbank Boulevard and the Yarra River to avoid the feeling of a stand-alone building that is completely separated from its context.
In our brief to the teams during the Southbank by Beulah architecture competition, one of the key instructions was to include publicly accessible green spaces that rise vertically throughout the building.
The current form was born from this vision with UNStudio and Cox Architecture designing a stunning biophilic skyscraper that promotes health and wellness for both the building users and surrounding community.
TAE: What kinds of pressure do you feel knowing you are creating a project that will be studied and scrutinized by other developers, city authorities, architects, urban designers and town planners from around the world?
JC: The scale of this project is extraordinary and the level of complexity is unlike any of our past or present projects. For this reason, we felt an architecture competition was the best path to go down, gathering the most innovative minds in the world to conceptualise the best design for Melbourne.
Alongside a panel of jurors who are renowned experts in urban design and city-shaping architecture we were able to assess each entry in great detail, selecting the design that would deliver the best result.
Hosting the design presentation in a public symposium also meant we could remain open and transparent, maintaining a strong dialogue with the community to understand the city’s wants and needs.
Taking this incredibly scrupulous approach, coupled with assembling an unsurpassable team of architects, engineers, futurists, placemaking and cultural experts, is the reason we believe we are crafting an incredible outcome for Melbourne.
significantly reduce the reliance on vehicle transport. The Arts Precinct and shopping, entertainment and sporting destinations are all within a 10-minute walk.
The CBD and Flinders Street Station — Melbourne’s main train station which will one day provide train connections to the airport — are also accessible by foot without crossing a road.
Southbank by Beulah will also offer a house-car service which will reduce the need for residents to own a car. ‘Mobility As A Service’ (MAAS) will be an emerging disruptor in the next decades and we are preparing for this in an attempt to further reduce vehicular traffic.
TAE: When will an announcement for an international hotel operator be made?
JC: We are looking to announce the hotel operator in the latter part of the year. This will be a 5-star hotel from a globally renowned brand who has never operated in Melbourne or Australia before.
Once we finalise agreements we will be able to provide more details pertaining to this.
TAE: What kinds of pressure do you feel each working day and how do you balance your long work hours particularly with raising young family?
JC: Naturally, I think I feel the pressure to deliver to all stakeholders whether customers, financiers, stakeholders, project partners and so on. However, by compartmentalising as often as possible this helps to cope with any stress and makes everything achievable on a day-to-day basis.
I also aim to keep one day to myself each week in order to rest and rejuvenate for the week ahead; usually a Sunday as a “sabbath day”. On this day I take time to do things I love whether it be reading a book, watching movies and spending time with family, which are important to keep me inspired.
On top of that it’s important that we include our family in our journey, believing in the larger vision and going through the ups and downs together. As men often like to keep things to themselves and take on all the pressure, I learnt that it is better to include everyone on the journey!
TAE: What do you want Australians to remember you and Adelene in the years after the project is completed?
JC: Simply, people who have been able to make a true difference and impact in people’s lives.
Adelene and I have always shared a vision to create spaces that will transform the urban fabric of a city in a positive
We have been incredibly grateful to have received the confidence and unanimous backing from the City of Melbourne, and now the support of the State Government in granting us planning approval to begin construction.
TAE: The conceptual designs indicate something unlike anything seen in Australia. How did such a form factor come about? What practical set of issues does it solve?
JC: Southbank – especially around City Road – tends to be quite desolate and harsh. It isn’t pedestrian friendly and there are no buildings that offer a ground floor or podium that is activated. Most buildings are single use only, so from the outset, it was our vision to revitalise the area.
TAE: What kinds of issues did the planning authorities put to you that you had to counter in order to achieve a positive outcome?
JC:The process itself, in general, is incredibly detailed and complex. Southbank by Beulah is a city within a city and the number of programmes included has never really been done before, so the biggest hurdle has been ensuring we succinctly communicate the meaningful impact Southbank by Beulah can bring to the community.
But given its intricacy, our team has undertaken an extensive process, working on the cohesiveness of the building overall in order to retain our original vision — an activated ground floor plane in a vertical village — that showcased the infinite possibilities of this concept to authorities.
Specifically, the treatment of City Road and Waterfall Lane was a crucial element that needed to be addressed in the final design due to its current condition. However, through a strong collaborative effort with the City of Melbourne and DELWP, we were able to counter this to achieve the best outcome for the urban realm via an activated and pedestrian friendly streetscape.
TAE: How will your project deal with the tremendous traffic congestion around the precinct created by such a concentration of residents in one location?
JC:Southbank is perfectly prepared to be a ‘super tower precinct’ as a result of the years spent by authorities investing in smart infrastructure and upgrades to support the forecast traffic loads.
The longest frontage of the Southbank by Beulah is along City Road which is one of the city’s major arterial connecting the east to west on the south side of the CBD.
All main roads in the area also connect directly to the Monash Freeway (only a few hundred meters away) which provides an uninterrupted connection right across Melbourne — the south and eastern suburbs via the Burnley Tunnel, the airport via the Burnley Bridge, as well as connecting the western suburbs via
the Westgate Bridge.
The site also boasts four street frontages and connections to Southbank’s roads and public infrastructure on each side. We are maximising the use of this asset by completely separating the back-of-house operational requirements of this major vertical village — from the public arrivals to the residences, tourist attractions, retail shopping, offices and 5-star hotel — to spread the vehicle traffic in order to minimise congestion in any one location.
The location offers almost perfect proximity to every amenity in metropolitan Melbourne which will
Southbank by Beulah is a substantial long term and sustainable economic driver for both Southbank and Melbourne generating:
• $1 billion of investment stimulus to the Melbourne construction market
• 4,700 construction jobs
• A total operational workforce of 3,250 jobs once complete spanning commercial, retail,
entertainment, hospitality and child car
• $606 million (including GST) of annualised Gross Value Added (GVA) during construction
• $1.5 billion in annual operation output
way. Ultimately, we want Southbank by Beulah to shape the future of Melbourne, creating a safe, enjoyable and inspiring place for everyone by positively influencing the wider community and contributing to a reduction in crime rates and poverty.
These spaces must also promote sustainability, health and wellness, and greenery, helping people foster relationships while instilling prosperity and wellness.
Interest in the project
For anyone looking to register their interest in one of the residential apartments, you are able to keep updated on all future Southbank by Beulah announcements via www.southbankbybeulah.com or by emailing melbourne@ beulahinternational.com to be placed on our list for future communication.