The massing of a tall building is often driven by a response to context and the specific planning controls to which it is subject. Creating an iconic addition to the skyline is another common driver. The resultant form may be dramatic or respectful, but the successful integration of mass and surface through the detailed resolution of the facade should result in beautiful and elegant buildings that respond to their location in both a contextual and symbolic manner.
Three recent Bates Smart buildings take on this challenge in three very different ways. Height and vista controls and the respect required for the nearby neo-gothic spires of St Paul’s Cathedral determined a very specific response to mass and facade of 171 Collins St. A fractured form mirrors the geometry of the Cathedral spires, while the detailed design of the facade complements the form with a seamless and crystalline appearance and finely tuned degree of reflectivity creating an “artificial sky” as a subtle background to the spires.
Conversely, a less tightly defined urban fabric drove the desire for a strong corner statement at 555 Collins St. It's sculptural mass combined with the fluidity of the facade treatment clearly defines and articulates its place in the Melbourne city grid.
Taking its cues from a less urban context, the Di Long Tower references the dramatic countryside of Guizhou, and the symbolic power of the Chinese Dragon. Flanked by mountain-like forms, the tower rises dramatically clad in diagonal scales which are fritted to control heat gain and glare, as well as emulating the skin of the dragon.
These projects demonstrate the powerful design responses possible when the contextual response of the mass of a building is successfully intertwined with the detailed facade design and resolution.