Essence Apartments encapsulates a balance of vibrancy and intimacy for its residents through the design response that focuses on the end-user’s desires and comfort while still playing its role in its important local context.
Developed by Blackburne Property Group and designed and executed by Hames Sharley, Essence Apartments activates, engages and responds to its landmark position, responding appropriately to its corner location and to the public open spaces that surround it. Reacting to its key social, environmental and physical contexts; the development provides an external face that is both active and engaging and encourages a sense of identity.
Essence Apartments provides an active and diverse built environment encouraging strong engagement amongst its residential population and the wider local community.
Questions & Answers
What was the brief?
The key objective for this development was to successfully deliver a high-quality mixed-use development with an activated ground floor and a diverse range of apartment typologies to cater for a wide cross-section of the community. Delivering a quality retail and permeable ground floor was critical to establish the integration of the project into its greater context.
How is the project unique?
No project is unique if we look at it broadly. There are a mixture of housing typologies, usually one, two and three bedrooms dispersed on a floor to take advantage of the views. How it hits the ground is a bespoke challenge, and we have executed that to the best of our ability. With three lobbies, a grocer, three tenancies and apartments all activating the two streets, two laneways and football oval.
Our approach was to create a unique identity for each building. A building that looks to the oval, a building looks to the river and Claremont quarter and a building that addresses the western sun, golf course and swimming pool, but as the residents begin to occupy and “own” the building that’s when it will be unique.
For us, a residential building isn’t complete until the residents have moved in and start putting their stamp on it. For us, this is their home and their community, hopefully, they will form friendships, meet for nibbles and drinks, and “own” their spaces. That’s when it is truly unique.
What building methods were used?
The building was built with traditional methods, with a mixture of reinforced insitu concrete slabs, concrete and lightweight partition walls and the external façade with “timber look” panelling, cladding and recycled brick to bring a balance of contemporary and contextual response to the development.
What are the sustainability features?
In addition to the key passive design elements controlling sunlight, heat gain and air movement; active systems pursue environmentally sustainable outcomes for all and heat recovery and photovoltaic power generation.
Who are the clients and what’s interesting about them?
It’s about focussing on the future residents and being a custodian of good design while balancing functionality and cost. Our direct clients, Blackburne are the developers that look to create a product that is desirable in the marketplace. It’s about our collective knowledge, experience and reputation that will deliver the vision that makes people want to buy and reside in one of our buildings such as Essence.
Our need to focus on small things like how people will furnish their room, their access to views, sun, breeze and shade, how they dispose of their rubbish and how do their friends find their front door are all important aspects of creating a building of value.
What were the key challenges?
The site is required to be activated on all sides and although not unique for the precinct, there were some additional challenges on this site that needed consideration. The surroundings of the park, road and train line frontage, as well as environmental considerations in particularly, westerly sun and light penetration were some of the key environmental considerations for the site. It was also adjacent to a functioning football oval, so construction sequencing and safety was critical.
What were the solutions?
The design evolved out of a few simple principles. Firstly, to focus on the end-user and their desire to connect with the surrounds. Secondly, focus on activation and ensure that spaces are functional and dispersed so that residents and occupants engage with the public realm. Also pushing the design guidelines “envelope” for the good of safety and amenity was received well as we looked to add a crossover to the site to maintain all service vehicles stay in forwarding gear and additional height for public spaces for all to enjoy and gather as a community. These simple moves allowed us to stay focused on the principles of the project and align our product to meet market needs.