Could Docklands development bring office workers back to CBD?

A Docklands office development designed to “evolve with the future of work” has collected a top property industry gong.

Collins Square has been hailed as the kind of building that will entice Melbourne workers to return to the CBD after collecting the Rider Levett Bucknall Victorian Development of the Year award.

And the developer’s site management team has a novel concept that might tempt workers to give up working from home and return to the office once restrictions ease.

The accolade comes four years after developer Walker Corporation abandoned plans to sell the 2ha project, then worth an estimated $2bn, after concluding they should hold it as a long-term asset instead.

Now home to six towers hosting offices for the Commonwealth Bank, Transurban, KPMG, Mars Foods, Tabcorp and the NBN Corporation, it features 250,000sq m of commercial space and 10,000sq m of retail and is worth an estimated $3bn.

Each of the towers is linked by a network of interconnected laneways, tapping into Melbourne’s famous laneway culture, and the wider project took seven years to complete.

A 131-year-old goods shed at the southern end of the development was the longest building in Australia when it was built in 1889, and has been restored for modern use.

“Iconic projects like Collins Square epitomise what draws people into the CBD: innovation, design excellence and connectivity,” Wall said.

Inside one of the development’s six towers.

“(It) is an innovative, inspiring precinct that has been designed to adapt and evolve with the future of work.”

Walker Corporation commercial assets general manager Emily Carroll said they were “thrilled” to win the award and it reflected its success as a “productive, collaborative and thriving commercial and retail hub for large and small businesses”.

It is expected forward-thinking design that allows office workers to blend with retail, communal and dining spaces throughout the precinct will give workers a social incentive to return to work after COVID-19.

With precinct-wide Wi-Fi for tenants using advanced routing technology, it is possible for tenants to access their office virtually from anywhere in the precinct.

Collins Square was listed for sale while under construction in 2015. Picture: Stuart McEvoy

“The Collins Square Business and Events Centre also has more than 20 purpose-built professional spaces, which range from quiet working areas to larger rooms for team meetings and workshops,” Carroll said.

The project was determined a winner of the Property Council of Australia/Rider Levett Bucknall Innovations and Excellence Awards by a 14-person independent judging panel headed by John V McCarthy, an Order of Australia officer, and a former national president of the Property Council.

Other judges were appointed from firms including Colliers International, AMP Capital, Urbis, Lendlease and Monash University.