It's been about almost two years since Beyoncé last visited Melbourne, but her influence can still be felt in mainland Australia's southernmost capital. Don't believe us? Well, maybe a 68-story skyscraper bearing her famous curves will convince you otherwise. The Premier Tower will be built smack bang in the city center, and though its aesthetics are sure to draw their share of attention, the architects tell us there's a very practical thinking behind its Beyoncé-like bows.
The Premier Tower recently won approval from the city's planners and will be constructed across the road from Southern Cross railway station, one of Melbourne's major train and bus terminals. This two-level thoroughfare lies underneath a huge wave-shaped roof where strong gusts of wind blow overhead. As Reid Dixon, associate director at architecture firm Elenberg Fraser tells Gizmag, this breeze isn't particularly conducive to building tall skinny towers in the vicinity.
"The aesthetics of the building are purely borne out of a natural outcome for the site," he explains. "The biggest problem with supertower topology is the structure system, getting up to 80 floors without tipping over or bending in the wind."
But the architects were absolutely ready for this jelly, having hatched an innovative plan to keep their tower stable. Some skyscrapers these days feature concrete-filled cores running up their centers to better hold them in place, but Dixon and his team instead opted to concentrate the significant mass around halfway up, just like a certain pop star.
So a big chunk of concrete sits at around the midway point of the building from which a structual web shoots out to create the bulging waistline. The curved edges and undulating form are intended to dull the force of the swirling winds. But as Dixon explains, any similarity to Beyoncé was purely coincidental – at least to begin with.
"The building volume was created by those natural outcomes. We were in a meeting and trying to describe the appearance of the design to somebody, but we didn't have any images. So one of our directors said it looks like the music clip to Beyoncé's Ghost," says Dixon, referring to the 2013 video which features full grown women flailing about in nothing but skintight, body-length stockings.
But at this point in the process the architects had only come up with the concept for the building's exterior, so they took this nod to pop culture and ran with it, designing a lavish interior influenced by Beyoncé's public persona.
"The apartments and common areas are full of chocolate, champagne, bronze and gold colors," says Dixon. "We tried to create a nice warm palette, inspired by Beyoncé's skin tones and theatre performances."
The architect also spoke of the building's sustainable design elements, namely its exterior aimed at optimizing passive heating and cooling. This saw tiny metal flakes heated and layered onto oxidized, double glazed glass, which then allow the sun in at certain angles but reflect it at others, catering to Melbourne's dramatically fluctuating seasons.
The Premier Tower will house 660 apartments in total, along with a 160-room hotel and retail spaces on the ground floor. Work is expected to begin later this year.
Source: Elenberg Fraser