V-Leader shares for Vision for Office & Retail Hub at 189 Toorak Rd

12 December 2022

Melbourne-based developer V-Leader has submitted plans to the City of Stonnington, outlining a vision to transform a site at 189 Toorak Road into a $90m premium mixed-use office and retail hub.

The 906sqm site was acquired by V-Leader in August 2021 with a permit in place for a 12- storey office and residential scheme. Revised plans by global interdisciplinary design practice Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) outline an alternate vision that will transform the structure into an 11-storey mixed-use site with over 2,000sqm of retail space over 3-levels. This project marks the second partnership for V-Leader and SOM, having collaborated on the developer’s $450m premium office development at 600 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.

Atop the retail offering will sit nearly 3,000sqm of office space across 7-storeys. Reflecting the flight to quality and considered design seen across the commercial sector, V-Leader is looking to bring the high-end, tailored offering seen in recent CBD projects to smaller, more intimate office spaces. Signalling confidence in the product, V-Leader has committed to shifting its own headquarters to the site upon completion.

The project will pay homage to the historically significant Hotel Claremont, with the upper floors to be set back from the street frontage and the original façade restored to ensure a subtle, respectful interaction with the bustling Toorak Road. The retail portion will look to incorporate Toorak Road’s rich history as a destination for high-quality hospitality offerings.

Celebrating and respecting the significance of the site’s original façade was a priority for the project team, with the design establishing a sensitive and considered relationship between old and new. The proposed scheme integrates the existing structure, with the additional floors to ‘step back’, visually minimising the bulk of the site and ensuring a subtle exchange with the street front.

Cascading south-facing terraces will be carved into the expressive structural forms, integrating a sense of nature into the working environment. Access to fresh air and natural light, the intelligent allocation of materials, and a weightlessness achieved through an economy of means each work in unison to conjure a biophilic spirit. 189 Toorak Road fuses together old and new, low-rise and high-rise to reinforce the essence of balance that underpins its design.

The decision to remove the residential component from the scheme is in line with V-Leader’s recent activity, which saw a similar amendment to the 600 Lonsdale Street permit. The busy developer also recently acquired seven neighbouring buildings near the southeast corner of Lonsdale and Russell Streets, totalling more than 1,137sqm.

Of the plans, V-Leader’s Managing Director Andy Zhang says “ The tangible shift in what businesses want from their working environment has been well recorded, with considered, responsive design that takes into consideration hybrid working a clear priority.

“ In developing the scheme for this site, we identified a lack of a high-end, contemporary offering for smaller structures – for example, private family offices – which often sit within traditional, somewhat aged builds. We wanted to reflect the premium amenity and design seen in projects such as 600 Lonsdale within more intimate office environments.

“ Having spent the last few years focusing on Melbourne’s CBD, we look forward to bringing transformative, desirable office spaces that accommodate modern working practices to the city-fringe market.”

For Scott Duncan, Design Partner at SOM, the vision is a balancing act of several considerations, he further adds that:

“ Designing 189 Toorak Road was as much of an exercise in reduction as much as it was addition. To preserve the grandeur of the South Yarra Coffee Palace, the volume of the building was carved away to produce a stepped mass, allowing it to recede from view at the highstreet level. The undulating forms that float above the historic building reflect a sustainable approach made possible through cutting edge structural engineering—where materials are significantly reduced down to the bare essentials.

“ In this way, adaptive reuse combined with restrained addition results in a significant decrease in embodied carbon, and a visual balance of old and new.”

Construction on the project is earmarked to commence in Q3 2023 following the receipt of relevant planning approvals.