Swanton Central

Elenberg Fraser Architecture as Architects

Melbourne has a thing with axes – how often have you glanced down one of the mains arteries of the city and realized it perfectly frames a civic monument? Taking inspiration from that axial idea, this tall residential tower, positioned above the intersection of the off-set Hoddle and Carlton grids, echoes this geometric tension in its facetted planes that stretch up into the sky.
Intersecting vertical fingers of descending pink and rising green glass, separated by a dividing silver hue, create a shimmering dichroic effect through the height of the façade. Inspired by the ambiguity of Escher, this creates a dramatic vertical transition evocative of the transition of solid, through liquid to vapour.
Facing Victoria Street, a three-tiered ceremonial staircase provides an appropriate entry to the new plaza created between the cluster of new buildings congregating on the CUB site. Paying homage to the city’s celebrated urban planning, Swanston Central generates a new laneway behind the heritage building, demarcating and uniting the two buildings through this merging of old and new. Apartments sit atop the mixed use podium, which employs landscape elements to integrate with the public domain of the plaza.
The liquid theme continues through into the heart of the building’s interior, evoking the crystalline structure of Chaucer’s ‘House of Fame’. As you enter, the lobby features glacial fractured stone floors separated with brass. Further up at level six where the communal pools and spas are located, sauna and steam rooms are surrounded with frosted glass, from where steam emanates throughout the floor. Other amenities include games rooms, a library, and a large winter-garden filled with plants. A sky lounge offers views and connections to the world beyond – to Carlton Gardens and in the evening to the twinkling lights of the CBD.
Swanston Central pays tribute to the unique sense of history embodied in the site, while stretching up to envisage Melbourne’s bright future.

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