The inspiration behind the landmark


An exciting new chapter for South Yarra has commenced with construction giant Multiplex confirmed as builder of the highly anticipated $800 million Capitol Grand.

Some 16 years after plans for the redevelopment of the Capitol Bakeries site were first proposed, the landmark building inspired by the vision of LK Property Group’s Executive Group Chairman Larry Kestelman will begin to take shape.

“I’m a proud Melburnian and proud of our talent in this city, so when LK Property Group purchased the site in 2014 I bought the best team together including renowned architecture firm Bates Smart and leading landscape designer Jack Merlo to showcase Australian design and creativity,” said Kestelman. “Now we add Multiplex, another Australian success story, to the Capitol Grand South Yarra family.”

In addition to the team at LK Property Group, the confirmation of Multiplex’s appointment will be especially significant for Bates Smart and Kristen Whittle, a director of the firm and leader of its architectural design team in Melbourne.

Kristen Whittle – the Bates Smart Director heads up the firm’s architectural design team in its Melbourne studio.

Kristen Whittle – the Bates Smart Director heads up the firm’s architectural design team in its Melbourne studio.

“I stood there on the corner of Chapel St and Toorak Rd to capture the feeling and energy of the place,” says Whittle, recollecting the moment the inspiration for the design first struck him.

“At that point we had had discussions with the City of Stonnington and we were obviously well aware that they wanted an iconic sculptural building on the corner as the high point in the Stonnington context.”

Right from the outset, a key plank of Bates Smart’s picture for the 50-storey LK Tower was that it would captivate and entice from all angles.

“We wanted the form to be different from different perspectives,” says Whittle. “There’s movements in very different axes as you approach it; it doesn’t uncoil itself from along its centre point, it rotates as it uncoils. Inventing a form that was beguiling was a very important element for us. We wanted a structure that was difficult to appropriate.”

The uncoiling nature of the building also provides significant design features, perfect for luxury apartment living.

“We looked at the plans and the convex elements that were coming out ended up almost being like large bay windows,” says Whittle. “Then we looked at where the obvious places for the balconies would be and they tended to be in the concave elements.

“It literally just designed itself as soon as we put those ingredients into it.”

While not everyone will be fortunate enough to call Capitol Grand home, Whittle is equally enthusiastic about Capitol Grand’s pedestrian frontage and the amazing luxury retail presence that will come to define the north-west corner of Chapel St and Toorak Rd.

Capitol Grand’s spectacular pedestrian frontage.

Capitol Grand’s spectacular pedestrian frontage.

“If you imagine the shopfronts you see in London’s Burlington Arcade or the Block Arcade in Melbourne with their beautiful glazed bay windows and beautiful floors, that’s what we’re going to have at Capitol. So there’s going to be this permanent beautiful public realm in the spirit of those old arcades,” says Whittle.

No doubt Whittle and his Bates Smart colleagues will be keeping a keen eye on South Yarra from their Nicholson St offices as their landmark design rises up and heralds a new era of luxury living in Melbourne.

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