From the proliferation of the 'unskilled shoe-box' to the ubiquity of square plan towers: comparative investigation of the post 1950s tall office buildings between the Central Business Districts of Melbourne and other Australian cities. (12884)
The tall commercial office buildings of the Central Business Districts of many global cities appear to be a phenomenon of international ubiquity. The general morphology of these buildings seems to be exempted from design intents of complex configuration and it seems to be informed simply by instances of economic pragmatism which may appear to ignore regional localisms. Notwithstanding the severe limitations pertinent to this type of anthropic urban transformation a closer investigation of the space and economic determinants of tall commercial architecture reveals that a matrix of geometrical possibilities that goes beyond the ubiquitous 'shoe-box' is possible and it can be established. Starting with empirical observations at urban scale of the existing tallest buildings of the inner city centres, the geometrical variations on this theme for the major Australian capital cities have been mapped out. Subsequently the morphological observations of Melbourne have been reconciled with the urban contexts of origin suggesting an interpretation of the modality of large-scale urban transformations and of its economic, social, and technological causes behind.
This paper proposes to recover the Italian tradition of studies and operative critiques of architects and critics like Aldo Rossi, Carlo Aymonino and Manfredo Tafuri which considered the typology of architectural artefacts and the morphology of cities as the starting point for a more complete understanding of urban agglomerations. In this sense this contribution is proposed here firmly within the disciplinary boundaries of the urban geography of city centres. This methodology is adapted to the specifics of tall commercial buildings of the Central Business District of Melbourne and it is developed with morphological comparisons with Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. The aim is to broaden the horizon of interpretation on how speculative developments have in the past and still continue today to change irreversibly Australian cities and other cities worldwide. A better appreciation of these mechanisms may indicate a path for a moral suasion to channel speculative economic forces towards more publicly and environmentally sensitive initiatives.