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Form and Performance: Tall Concrete Structures and Apartment Quality in Melbourne’s Residential Towers

8 pagesPublished: October 23, 2017


Does the structural configuration of tall buildings affect the quality of apartment design? The architecture of tall buildings relies strongly on quantitative inputs. Yields of development, overturning moments, dynamic responses and lift-waiting periods are, for instance, items numerically measurable. The built form of tall buildings has to work within these strict and seemingly unchallengeable constraints. Yet, these same parameters should not be an impediment for spatial quality. Four case studies, taken from the recently proliferating stock of high rise apartment towers in Melbourne, are used to highlight the missed opportunities that follow from a partial application of performance-based design, where façade concepts, structural and construction inputs prevail over those of an overarching spatial integration. The mandate of performance- based design, if driven chiefly by mono-disciplinary concerns, remains incomplete, unless qualitative concerns, able to discern broader criteria for end-users, integrate as a high-level priority in the design process. A sample of apartments currently under construction in Melbourne’s CBD indicates that the emphasis on marketing, structural and construction demands is a key driver of the current built outcomes, relegating spatial quality and functionality of the dwellings produced to a third rank of priority. Some recently introduced built form controls with public benefit provisions make Melbourne an ideal environment to test, evaluate and discuss within the industry a new range of typologies. However, such guidelines should start by acknowledging a broader and more evidence-based concept of innovation, design quality and performance in design.

Keyphrases: apartment quality, Melbourne, structural design, tall buildings

In: Marsha Lamb (editor). AUBEA 2017: Australasian Universities Building Education Association Conference 2017, vol 1, pages 219--226

BibTeX entry
  author    = {Giorgio Marfella and Andrew Martel and James Helal},
  title     = {Form and Performance: Tall Concrete Structures and Apartment Quality in Melbourne's Residential Towers},
  booktitle = {AUBEA 2017: Australasian Universities Building Education Association Conference 2017},
  editor    = {Marsha Lamb},
  series    = {EPiC Series in Education Science},
  volume    = {1},
  pages     = {219--226},
  year      = {2017},
  publisher = {EasyChair},
  bibsource = {EasyChair,},
  issn      = {2516-2306},
  url       = {},
  doi       = {10.29007/bd4k}}
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