Dutch architecture practice UNStudio and Australian firm Cox Architecture have unveiled “Green Spine,” their proposal for the $2-billion Southbank Precinct overhaul in Melbourne, Australia. Selected as part of a shortlist that includes the likes of BIG and OMA, UNStudio and Cox Architecture have envisioned a twisting, greenery-covered high-rise for the 6,191-square-meter Southbank by Beulah site. The mixed-use development will be integrated into the urban fabric with a wide array of programmatic features and indoor-outdoor spaces.


twisting tower

high performance glazed facade

The twisting “Green Spine” refers to the landscaped space on the street level that appears to seamlessly flow upward to wrap around the two towers and culminates in the “Future Gardens” at the top of the residential tower. The low podium will comprise the majority of the mixed-use spaces and be open to both residents and the wider community. The podium will include a marketplace, retail, entertainment areas and a BMW experience center. The development’s various podiums will cater to the city’s temporary exhibitions and are flexible enough to accommodate different uses from art shows to festivals.

mixed use podium

landscaped terrace

“This multifaceted spine is created by the splitting open of the potential single mass at its core, thereby forming two separate high rise structures and causing them to reveal the almost geological strata of their core layers as they rise above a light-filled canyon,” explains UNStudio. “As a result of this design intervention, the towers that result on either side can enjoy porous city views and vastly improved contextual links. The orientation of the Green Spine enables an extension of the public realm on the podium, the continuation of green onto the towers and facilitates orientation to the CBD and the Botanical Garden at the top of the towers.”

landscaped interior

diagram for green spine

Related: UNStudio designs cocoon-like pavilion made of 100% recyclable materials

The landscaped buildings are expected to mitigate the urban heat island effect, absorb noise and fight against air pollution. The “Green Spine” will be constructed with materials and textures local and native to Australia. The buildings’ high-performance glass facade follows passive design strategies, while external shading fins control solar gain. Energy and water usage will also be minimized wherever possible.

+ UNStudio

+ Cox Architecture

Images via UNStudio