3 km² (1.2 sq mi)
Docklands occupies an area extending up of and adjacent to the Melbourne CBD. It is bounded by Spencer Street, Wurundjeri Way and the Charles Grimes Bridge to the east, CityLink to the west and Lorimer Street across the Yarra to the south and is a primarily waterfront area centred around the banks of the Yarra River.
Contemporary Docklands is the product of an ongoing urban renewal project to extend the area of the Melbourne CBD (excluding Southbank and St Kilda Road) by over a third when completed around 2015. It is now home to several of Melbourne's modern landmarks, including Etihad Stadium, Southern Cross Station and the Southern Star Ferris wheel.
From the 1880s, the former swamp west of Melbourne became heavily used as a dock, with an extensive network of wharfs, heavy rail infrastructure and light industry. However, following the containerisation of shipping traffic it fell into disuse and by the 1990s was virtually abandoned, becoming notable for an underground rave dance scene, a dance culture which survives through popular organised events held at Docklands Stadium.
Docklands Stadium (first known as Colonial Stadium) was built in 1996 as a centrepiece to kick-start developer interest in Docklands as a viable renewal area. Urban renewal began in earnest 2000, with several independent privately developed areas overseen by VicUrban, an agency of the State government of Victoria. The brief for the master plan was for wide open water promenades and road boulevards with contributions of landscaping and public art commissions to be made by each developer and construction was to adhere to strict milestones. VicUrban promotes its vision of Docklands as being a major tourist attraction and projected over 20 million visitors a year and a future (2015) residential population of over 20,000.
A handful of significant buildings were retained, generally due to their association with the area's industrial and maritime history. Most of these heritage buildings are intended for adaptive reuse and integrated with new facilities.
Docklands has become a sought-after business address, attracting the national headquarters of the National Australia Bank, ANZ, Medibank Private, Bureau of Meteorology, Myer, National Foods as well as the regional headquarters for Ericsson and Bendigo Bank. The business park model of medium-rise office buildings combined with transport and proximity to the City Centre is seen by many in the real estate industry to be one of the reasons behind the success of the Docklands office market.
Docklands is also the home to a number of water sports, including Dragon Boat racing.
While still incomplete, Docklands developer-centric planning has been widely criticised and many Melbourne politicians and media commentators lament its lack of green open space, pedestrian activity, transport links and culture.
HistoryBefore the foundation of Melbourne, Docklands was a wetlands area consisting of a large salt lake and a giant swamp (known as West Melbourne Swamp) at the mouth of the Moonee Ponds Creek. It was one of the open hunting grounds of the Wurundjeri people, who created middens around the edges of the lake.
At Melbourne's foundation, John Batman set up his home on Batman's Hill at Docklands, marking the westernmost point of the settlement. However, the rest of the area remained largely unused for decades.
The advent of rail infrastructure in the late 1860s saw the City's industry gradually expand into the area.
The earliest extensive plans to develop the area was in the 1870s, when a plan was prepared to extend the Hoddle Grid westward, following the curve of the Yarra River and effectively doubling its size. The plan proposed several gridlike blocks with an ornamental public garden and lake in the shape of the United Kingdom, occupying the site of the salt lake. However, expansion of the grid westward was abandoned in favour of a northward extension.
Significant heritage buildings include 67 Spencer Street, former railway offices (adaptively reused as the "Grand Hotel" apartments), the railway goods sheds (adaptively reused as an indoor market), The Mission to Seafarers building, Victoria Dock and Central Pier, Queens Warehouse (adaptively reused as a vintage car museum), Docklands Park gantry crane and a small number of warehouses and container sheds.
The area is broken up into a number of precincts, which are each being designed and built by a different development company.
The Batman's Hill precinct is bordered by the Yarra River to the south, Spencer Street to the east, Docklands Stadium to the north and Victoria Harbour to the west. The precinct is named after the historical landmark Batman's Hill, which was once located within the area.
It is a mixed-use precinct including commercial and retail space, entertainment, hotels, residential sections, restaurants, cultural sites and educational institutions as well as the historic Rail Goods Shed No. 2, which was split in half to allow for the extension of Collins Street into Docklands, providing businesses with an address that is considered to be prestigious. The area is 100,000 square metres.
More than half the precinct is already built, committed or under construction, and includes the Watergate/Site One apartment and small office complex, 700 Collins Street (home to the Bureau of Meteorology and Medibank Private), 750 Collins Street (the Melbourne headquarters of AMP), Kangan Institute's Automotive Centre for Excellence (ACE) and the Fox Classic Car Museum, 717 Bourke Street (consisting of a 294 room Travelodge Hotel and 737 Bourke Street (home to National Foods).
On 2 August 2007, it was reported that a $1.5 billion scheme had been earmarked for Collins Street by Middle Eastern investment company Sama Dubai, to be designed by architect Zaha Hadid and Melbourne firm Ashton Raggatt McDougall. The plan would consist of four buildings, including Docklands' tallest tower as well as civic spaces spanning two sites to be built on decking over Wurundjeri Way. The proposed tower will be between 50 to 60 storeys tall but did not proceed and VicUrban put the site back out to tender in early 2011.
The offices of Fairfax Media are at 643 Collins Street. The new building, known as Media House, comprises 16,000 m2 of office space accommodating 1,400 staff, on decking over railway lines opposite Southern Cross Station. The $110 million eight-storey facility was designed by architects Bates Smart to achieve a 5-star Green Star rating, and will feature a news ticker, outdoor screen and grassy plaza. It was developed by Grocon in 2009.
Formerly known as Village Docklands, Collins Square is a 3ha precinct, within the larger Batman's Hill precinct being developed by the Walker Corporation.
Collins Square is the outcome of a split of precincts in the tender process in 2000, which resulted in Goods Shed South, 735 Collins Street and Sites 4a-4f, originally awarded to the Kuok Group and Walker Corporation.
A masterplan prepared by Marchese + Partners in conjunction with Bligh Voller Nield architects was approved in early 2002. It included a 60 storey Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts tower with a Collins Street address and a mix of commercial and residential towers, as well as the refurbishment of the southern half of Goods Shed No. 2 into a night market and food hall.
In mid 2007, a new masterplan was prepared by Bates Smart. In it a new 38 storey office tower replaced the Shangri La Hotel on Collins Street and the number of streets is reduced from four to three, replaced by pedestrian thoroughfares. Overall there will now be five office buildings, ranging in height from 155m (to roof) to 36m, a 10,000sqm retail and public space, and the refurbishment of the Goods Shed with a 'lantern' structure addressing Collins Street. The entire precinct is aiming for a 5 Star Green Star rating.
Collins Square is currently under construction.
Stadium PrecinctThe Stadium Precinct, which sits on the eastern edge of Docklands, consists of Etihad Stadium, Seven Network's Melbourne digital broadcasting centre, Victoria Point, Bendigo Bank offices and Quest serviced apartments. It is linked to Southern Cross Station and the Melbourne CBD by the Bourke Street pedestrian bridge, built over railway lines.
During the 2000 Docklands development tender process, the stadium precinct was divided into four corners, the North West Stadium Precinct (NWSP), North East Stadium Precinct (NESP), North East Stadium Precinct (NESP) and South West Stadium Precinct (SWSP). The NWSP was awarded to Channel 7/Pacific Holdings. The NESP was awarded to Pan Urban. The SWSP was awarded to Devine Limited/RIA Property Group and the SESP - Bourke Junction Consortium (ISPT, CBUS Property and EPC Partners).
Docklands Stadium (originally Colonial Stadium) was opened in March 2000. The ability for the structure to have both open and closed roof configurations has seen it host many sports events, including Australian Rules Football, soccer, cricket and rugby as well as concerts. The stadium complex is currently managed by Stadium Operations Ltd, which is owned by the Seven Network, with ownership transferring to the Australian Football League in 2025.
Developer Pan Urban has announced plans for a $300 million twin-tower apartment development, known as Lacrosse Docklands, for the NESP, with the towers set to rise 21 and 18 storeys respectively, above the stadium concourse, with restaurants and bars opening out on to the concourse, forming a retail plaza.
Plans for the site to be known as Bourke Junction include office towers of 29 and 21 storeys on the north-eastern and south-western corners of the SESP site, as well as three lower-rise buildings housing a 250 room hotel, a pub, medical centre, retail facilities, a business club and a two-level gymnasium.
Victoria HarbourThe Victoria Harbour Precinct is the centrepiece of Docklands. The precinct includes a proposed extension of Collins Street and Bourke Street to meet at the water's edge. It has an area of 280,000 square metres, with 3.7 kilometres of waterfront. The 12-year construction plans for Victoria Harbour include residential apartments, commercial office space, retail space, community facilities and the development of public spaces such as Grand Plaza, Harbour Esplanade, Docklands Park and Central Pier.
One of the first completed office buildings in the precinct was the colourful National Australia Bank (NAB) headquarters, located at 800 Bourke Street, which accommodates approximately 3,600 staff. The building has large open floor plates, an atria, a campus-style workplace and a four-star energy rating.
Almost 1,000 Ericsson employees also call Victoria Harbour home, with the company's new Melbourne offices at 818 Bourke Street. Ericsson House sits on the water's edge next door to the National Australia Bank HQ and Dock 5 apartments
The first residential tower to be built at Victoria Harbour was Dock 5. Rising 30 storeys, it was designed by award-winning Melbourne firm John Wardle Architects and HASSELL. Dock 5 derives its name from its location, which was known as Dock 5.
The Gauge, at 825 Bourke Street, will house the new offices of developer Lend Lease and Fujitsu. The eight-storey building was designed to achieve a six-star energy rating, becoming the second building in Docklands to do so.
A Safeway supermarket opened in Merchant Street (opposite The Gauge) in 2008, along with a number of other retail tenancies at street level, including an optometry practice called Kaleyedoscope, Australia Post, a childcare centre, and offices above.
In 2009 the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group's (ANZ) new world headquarters at 833 Collins Street have was completed. The office complex includes shops, car parking facilities and a YMCA. It enables 6,500 ANZ staff to work in one integrated area. The new ANZ headquarters, designed by HASSELL and developed by Lend Lease, was expected to become the largest office complex in Australia. Construction commenced in late 2006. It has been designed to achieve a six-star energy rating.
In 2007, Myer announced that it had chosen Victoria Harbour as the location for its new Corporate Store Support Offices. The new offices were built at 800 Collins Street, opposite ANZ.
Yarra's EdgeYarra's Edge is a residential precinct being developed by Mirvac, and the only Docklands precinct south of the Yarra River. When complete, it will consist of 11 apartment towers, costing A$1.3 billion, and cover 0.15 km2.
Yarra's Edge was one of the first developments in Docklands, with construction of Tower 1 commencing in 2000. It is divided into 3 smaller precincts:
The Marina Precinct - Comprising the marina and boardwalk, with six residential towers ranging in height from 25 to 47 storeys
The Park Precinct - Comprising Point Park and two residential towers
The River Precinct - Comprising a mix of lower-level, less intense terrace-style developments and three high-rise towers towards the Bolte Bridge
To date only five apartment towers have been completed, as well as the RekDek (located in the podium of Tower 1 and featuring a gymnasium and 25 metre lap pool), a public promenade, Point Park (with an outlook towards the Melbourne CBD) and a mix of restaurants, cafes and retail, including a day spa and a convenience store. Yarra's Edge also has a 175-berth marina, giving boat owners previously unavailable proximity to Crown Casino and the City.
Webb Bridge is an award winning bridge designed by Denton Corker Marshall, in collaboration with artist Robert Owen, forming a cycling and pedestrian link to the main part of Docklands, through Docklands Park. It is the conversion of the former Webb Bridge rail link. The bridge is near the Charles Grimes Bridge, over the Yarra.
Waterfront City is a shopping and entertainment area that includes the Southern Star Ferris wheel, Icehouse ice sports and entertainment centre, and numerous shops and cafes which are centred around this area.The precinct features an integration of retail, waterfront entertainment, tourism, dining, commercial and urban community. It has an area of 193,000 square metres.
Stage One was completed in December 2005, in time for the Melbourne stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race in January – February 2006 and the Commonwealth Games in March 2006. The precinct currently features a large circus tent, which hosts the International Circus Spectacular, as well as a mosaic of local entertainers and a number of bronze statues, including Kylie Minogue, John Farnham, Graham Kennedy, Nellie Melba and Dame Edna.
Stage Two includes a public entertainment area incorporating the Southern Star, a 120-metre (390 ft) tall Ferris wheel in the shape of a seven-pointed star and the Harbour Town brand direct outlet centre. Harbour Town is home to Australia's first Costco Warehouse Store. Waterfront City also features restaurants, cafes, bars, as well as cinemas, bowling and other family entertainment options.
Melbourne Central City Studios
When it opened in 2004, Central City Studios became Melbourne's largest film and television studio complex. The site is located approximately 1.5 km north west of the Central Business District. It has an area of 60,000 square metres and currently consists of five film and television sound stages.
The first major contract for the new studios was the American film Ghost Rider in 2005; with a budget of nearly $120 million, at the time it was the biggest feature film to be made in Victoria and features scenes involving Melbourne landmarks. Since then the studios have housed international productions.
In 2009 the Government of Victoria, together with the Studios, undertook the Future Directions project. This has resulted in the State Government committing the Studios to focus on both the international and domestic film and television industries. Further developments to the infrastructure of the site are planned for 2010, including a refurbishment of Stage 5 as a television studio and redevelopment of the workshop.
Long term plans for the Studios include a large sound stage, mess hall, workshop and retail spaces, production offices, and permanent commercial tenancies.
On 11 October 2010 the studios were re-branded as Docklands Studios Melbourne, formally adopting the name by which the studios were commonly known.