In a bid to overturn the state government’s approval for Australia 108 – the 388 metre tower planned for Melbourne’s Southbank, Mayor Robert Doyle has suggested that the building’s shadow could disfigure the Shrine of Remembrance.
Designed by architect Nonda Katsalidis, the building will be the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere and has met the approval of State Planning Minister Matthew Guy, who has regularly underlined his support for the project – describing it as an architectural example of Australia “coming of age”.
Melbourne City Council and the Victorian government have been in dispute over the building’s height since the project began, with architects Fender Katsalidis winning a VCAT tribunal hearing over the City’s objections.
Cr Doyle, who sits as a trustee of the Shrine told reporters “There are a couple of things that are sacrosanct – one is the Shrine and the other is the Yarra – and there are rules in the planning scheme to prevent that sort of overshadowing.”
The Mayor added: “If something is getting that big that it’s overshadowing the Shrine, you’d really have to say, ‘What are we gaining through that height?'”
However Cr Doyle’s concerns are not shared by the Shrine’s CEO Denis Baguley.
Mr Baguley told the Herald Sun that the State Planning Department had provided illustrations of how the shadow created by Australia 108 would traverse near the Shrine on Anzac Day and at the winter solstice.
“From my observation I don’t believe there are issues of overshadowing that will concern us,” said Mr Baguley.
“In our view the effect is minimal – no more than (from) existing buildings and our own trees…”
Nonda Katsalidis told Neos Kosmos that the CEO’s comments had pulled the rug out from under the Mayor’s feet.
“The Planning Department has gone to the Shrine and shown them diagrams, so Doyle doesn’t have great credibility when talking on this issue,” said Katsalidis.
“It’s water of a duck’s back, the City want limits on building heights, but there are good reasons sometimes to build high buildings.”
“If the City had their way Melbourne would never have had the Eureka building. Is that a good or a bad outcome? Has it increased the stature of Melbourne? Doyle should think about those things”.
Katsalidis has championed the extensive consultation with thousands of local residents and traders in Southbank on the planned Australia 108 tower. None of whom made significant objections.
“What this is, is a political issue,” said Katsalidis. “What they don’t like is the minister taking away decisions on major projects from the Council.
“The Council want to be part of the process, and that’s fair enough, but they have been. We’ve been through it, they objected before and the tribunal threw it out, as their objections were found to be without merit. They should learn from things like that”.
Australia 108 is set to be the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. Using new construction technology developed by Katsalidis, it is likely to have transformed the Melbourne skyline by 2017.