The CBD’s spread into the Valley is continuing at a rapid pace. Prime Space Projects today proposed a 15 level commercial tower situated at 358-378 Wickham Street. The developer has acquired the site of some 2,192 m² with the specific intention of developing a major office building to be known as ‘Wickham 358’.
The site currently comprises of two commercial buildings leased to Lexus and Godfreys respectively.
The development which has been designed by the Buchan Group will aim to achieve a 5 star GBCA Green Star, 5 star NABERS and PCA A-grade ratings.
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The proposed development is on the fringe of the Valley Gateway precinct as defined by BCC’s Fortitude Valley Neighbourhood Plan. This site is bounded by 4 street frontages, all needing to be activated, and adjoins a Heritage Listed building.
One of the major challenges for the site is Council’s desire for Acland Lane to become a vibrant and active laneway.
Central to maximising the potential for the successful activation of Acland Lane is the introduction of a cross block link and 2 way foyer connecting Wickham Street and Acland Lane. Acland Lane is also “extended” towards Constance Street by way of an active pedestrian laneway positioned against the site boundary.
The integration of Acland Lane into the Urban Fabric is thus vastly improved, and a “shortcut” and rear pedestrian access to the site from the Fortitude Valley Train Station is also created. This is currently possible through the existing multi-level carpark, and the connection will eventually be made via a public plaza fronting Constance Street created by a future railway capping.
Constance Street will also become an important connector to the proposed RNA Showground redevelopment precinct. The proposed cross block link (which can be closed off after hours) and Acland Lane extension also encourages, and maximises the potential for the adjacent open space fronting the heritage listed building to become an integrated and active open space in the future when it is re-developed.
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Whilst part of the Acland Lane frontage houses the essential servicing area required for a building of this scale, some activation is encouraged via the placement of a small retail tenancy at the laneway intersection. This tenancy also enjoys a direct line of sight to Wickham Street through the Ground Floor lobby.
The loading area is also recessed from the Acland Lane boundary which enables this space to be activated outside of normal servicing hours. Blank walls fronting the laneway will be articulated in a way to maintain a robust, laneway character.
The former Defiance Flour Mill, which adjoins the proposed 15 storey commercial building, was constructed in 1904 and was used as a flour mill until 1943, when it became the base for the 5th US Air Force Service Command. The building has since had various uses and currently houses a specialist wine emporium and other commercial tenancies.
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The main building is a 4 storey masonry building of polychrome brick construction, with generally dark brick walls, expressed cream brick pilasters, and coloured brick string courses. Windows are predominantly vertical in proportion and are arranged vertically between pilasters.
As part of the architectural response, the lower floor of the proposed 15 storey building is recessed at Constance Street to ensure the adjoining former Mill Building is visible from Wickham Street, and remains as the focus of the Constance Street streetscape.
The height of this recess also matches one of the colour brick string courses on the heritage façade, and “frames” the single storey portion of the building, located closest to the subject site. Such an approach, whilst framing only a small part of the building, draws people’s attention towards the building, and invites them to further engage, discover and appreciate the remainder of the building from either Constance Street, or from the newly created pedestrian laneway within the site.
The proposed 15 storey design also respects and references the vertical articulation of the former Mill Building, with the curtain wall façade on Wickham Street articulated with vertical fins. The Constance Street façade is also angled in plan to reflect the vertical façade proportions created by the rendered pilasters, but sleek in appearance to contrast against Heritage masonry facade.
The Acland Lane façade, which faces the former Mill Building, is broken into a random pattern of 3 storey high vertical solid insulated panels and glazing. Not only does this approach give the façade a fine grained appearance, it also references the vertical character of the building, breaks down the apparent scale of the tower and complements the former Mill Building.
The creation of an active and permeable ground plane, and the new pedestrian laneway against the former Mill building establishes a framework to enable the building to remain visually dominant, and maximises the potential for the building and the adjacent open space (currently used as their carpark) to be further integrated into part of the overall urban fabric if the adjoining site is redeveloped in the future.