This paper provides a brief overview of the history of tall buildings in Melbourne, Australia, and discusses the policy context within which they have developed through various phases. Although the policy techniques have varied, I will argue that they share a common feature of being effectively reactionary in approach.
The need for a more specific design context approach is discussed. The antecedents to such an approach can be found in the 1985 Melbourne Strategy Plan and the 1991 Planning and Urban Design Guidelines; whereas the present Melbourne Planning Scheme has adopted a strict performance based approach that has tended to result in a reversion to a site by site reactionary approach.
Finally, I will discuss the characteristics of a possible design context lead approach and the precedents for this within the Southbank Strategy Plan (1999).
The 19th Century period of Melbourne's development was naturally characterised by low rise buildings, and the dominant character of the land form is evident in early paintings, where the two hills along Collins Street and the consequent valley along Swanston Street are clearly evident.