Providing services in town and regional planning, traffic engineering, sustainable transportation planning, urban design and waste management.

The Tapestry Project

Urban Design

The Tapestry Project, 59-101 Alfred Street, North Melbourne and 103 - 109

North Melbourne
tapestry project landscape 02
  • Client

    Orb Property Partners

  • Council

    City of Melbourne

  • Location

    Macaulay Urban Renewal Precinct

  • Contact

    Mathew Furness


Development Summary

The Tapestry Project comprises 2 stages, extends across three street frontages and occupies a combined area of approximately 1.4 hectares in the Macaulay Urban Renewal Precinct of North Melbourne.  

The Victorian and Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) directed that a permit issue with conditions for Stage 2 in December 2020 (59-101 Alfred Street, North Melbourne). This approval complements the approval achieved earlier that year for Stage 1 at 103 - 109 and 115-117 Boundary Road, North Melbourne.

Stage 1 comprises two buildings of 9 and 12 storeys accommodating for ground floor retail, first floor office and co-working spaces with a total of 150 apartments in a mix of one, two and three bedroom configurations including 5% of apartments in one of these buildings to be transferred to a Social Housing provider. The architects for Stage 1 are Bayley Ward and separately, Fender Katsalidis.  

Stage 2 comprises four buildings, three of which are 12 storeys and one is six storeys as well an adaptively repurposed heritage building known as Farrell’s stables. The development accommodates a range of uses comprising; 359 apartments, market hall and other retail tenancies, cafes and restaurants, a boutique hotel, a 200 seat theatre and an upper level skate park.  This recreation facility as well as a bar and restaurant are linked across the top of three buildings by light weight pedestrian sky bridges.

A range of high quality public realm improvements are contemplated across both stages including a public park around which the Stage 2 buildings are sited, as well as a cycle path and other pedestrian connections within the development. These internal connections link with other pedestrian spaces in the neighbourhood.  A basement car park extends under the combined Stages 1 and 2 landholding.

The site planning, functional arrangements as well as the architectural relationships for Stages 1 and 2 needed to integrate with each other as well as the external context, both existing and planned for, within the Macaulay Urban Renewal Precinct.

Stage 2 buildings are designed by Fender Katsalidis architects and the hard and soft landscape treatments across both stages for the private and public realms is designed by Oculus, landscape architects.

An integrated site plan for Stages 1 and 2 at ground level is depicted in the second image to the right.

Project Characteristics

This proposal is a complex use and development of inner city land formerly occupied by industrial and warehouse uses. The land and the wider precinct has been identified for renewal and as a place of state significance by Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 as well as by the City of Melbourne planning scheme. 

The land is zoned Mixed Use and is affected by a Design and Development Overlay 63 (DDO63) which applies a combination of mandatory and discretionary built form controls as well as nominating the requirement for specific design, built form and public realm outcomes.     

ratio: was engaged by the permit applicant to provide initial advice and input and then subsequently to prepare expert evidence regarding the planning and urban design aspects of Stages 1 and 2.

The site planning and public realm requirements needed to respond to constraints including the need for raised floor levels in response to flood levels, another heritage building located immediately to the south, the Monee Ponds Creek Corridor within which is also the elevated Citi link and the Upfield railway line and a considerable change in ground levels across the site.

The ratio: planning and urban design advice required judgment and a comprehensive understanding of the complex interactions of policy, design obligations and site planning practicalities that are required to achieve high quality built form and public realm outcomes. 

Ultimately, the Tribunal agreed with the ratio: evidence as well as that of others in support of the amended proposal.

In particular, the Tribunal considered that integrated higher density mixed use develop­ment enjoyed strong strategic policy support and that the site layout, range of uses and the various demands placed on this complex project had been well resolved and was an acceptable response to the DDO requirements. In particular, the massing and scale of the buildings, their design expression and the varied skyline was supported. Tribunal noted that “proposed development will achieve the richness of space that is valued in Melbourne’s CBD with high quality accessways, but with a scale of development that is appropriate for this urban renewal area”. Finally, the Tribunal observed that the proposal will achieve a good standard of amenity for future res­idents, it will have limited external impacts and provides equitable development opportunities to its neighbours.

The “Tapestry Project” is a transformative initiative for the evolution of the Macaulay Urban Renewal Precinct. It implements long standing state and local government policy and will make a significant contribution to a fine grained pedestrian friendly urban fabric that knits in with other proposed developments in the precinct as well as the traditional residential areas of North Melbourne.

tapestry project landscape 02
tapestry project masterplan 01
tapestry project elevation