Australia's new tallest tower: Is the spectacular 'Green Spine' the future of skyscrapers?

The design proposal submitted by UNStudio with Cox Architecture has been selected as the winner for the more than A$2bn tower project in Melbourne

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Compared to the UAE, Australia is more like a miniature Legoland when it comes to tall buildings.

But where it is lacking in height, it is set to make up in character after the design for what is planned to be its new tallest building was chosen.

The winning proposal for the Southbank by Beulah project in Melbourne was submitted by UNStudio with Cox Architecture with its "Green Spine" design, which has a passing resemblance to Dubai's Cayan Tower thanks to its twisting body.

It also comes in at a similar height - the taller of the two towers, which will be entirely residential, reaches 356.2 metres making it the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere. The smaller of the two, which will be home to a hotel and commercial space, touches 252.2m. Cayan Tower stands at 307m.

Cayan Tower, courtesy of Better Homes *** Local Caption ***  wk20no-otm-p6.jpg
Cayan Tower in Dubai. Courtesy Better Homes

The idea behind the "Green Spine" was to integrate vertically networked platforms, terraces and verandas, according to UNStudio.

The spine is said to split open the potential single mass at its core thereby forming two separate high rise structures and causing them to "reveal the almost geological strata of their core layers as they rise above a light-filled canyon".

“In addition to providing the towers with a twisting, sculptural silhouette, the Green Spine is an architectural element that incorporates a multitude of functions in one fluid gesture,” said Ben van Berkel, founder and principal architect at UNStudio.


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At ground level, the spine is planned to engage with Southbank Boulevard by bringing people up and into the building. From the public park at the top of the podium, the Spine continues to entwine itself around the two towers, where it culminates at the top of the residential tower where a publicly accessible garden will be located.

It is, however, still early days with a construction date pencilled in for 2020. And, according to a report by The Guardian, the developer faces a battle to get the project off the ground due to planning laws.

Australia’s current tallest building is the Gold Coast’s Q1, which stands at 322m. The tallest in Melbourne is the Eureka Tower at 297m.