External Dining, 360 Collins St, Melbourne
Feasibility Master Planning by James Woodburn
Due to the expiration of key leases, there was an opportunity for Dexus to refurbish the building, including the extensive north facing plaza. Whilst the commercial lobby needed to set the scene for prestige commercial tenants, the elevated plaza at the rear could provide a compelling food offer over one or two levels for the building’s tenants and for customers in the surrounding area. There was also the possibility of a destination restaurant along the street frontage.
The plaza, at a different level from the commercial foyer, required vertical transportation to access it. In addition, the visual relationship between the uses needed to be subtle. The food mix was challenging in terms of establishing the location and size of tenancies to allow external dining, visibility of shop fronts and good access at the relevant operating times. There was also the question of servicing for the retail, and in particular the special requirements of loading and waste handling for food tenancies.
Economics ultimately played a considerable part in the design. Following an in depth market analysis by Future Food, information about what would be realistically achievable was made available. The two level retail on the plaza became one level. The leasable areas were reduced, and the blocks of retail were reconfigured to be as flexible as possible. In other words, the scheme was tightened up, but without loss of amenity, flexibility or atmosphere. These actions considerably improved the feasibility of the project.