By Stuart Marsland, Principal, Rothelowman.
Architects are finding innovative ways to offer new building typologies as multiple market factors influence a push to provide all the convenience and connectivity of city living in a widening suburban context.
The resulting mixed-use developments, which include permutations of hotel, commercial and residential offerings are being driven by market conditions including governments’ push towards sustainable, low-transit living; developers’ desire to sell large portions of projects simultaneously; and a thirst by the public for increased liveability as seen through the rise of conveniences such as UberEats and online shopping.
While a number of mixed-use developments, such as QT Melbourne (which combines residential apartment living with a high-end hotel) are nothing new, the arrival of large developments of this genre in the suburbs is certainly a progression worth noting.
Rothelowman has been involved in a number of these new offerings, including the New Charsfield and Element by Westin mixed-use hotels, the Oros complex in Oakleigh (combining hotel, residential and retail) and residences at The Glen and Victoria Gardens shopping centres.
These buildings require highly complex designs that meet local agendas for intensified land use while improving user liveability by seamlessly handling multiple functions at a time.As architects and designers, our skill lies in understanding the complexity of integrating different programs – for example, office with hotel or shopping centre with residential – and we are working on a range of briefs that involve integrating those typologies to provide a more cosmopolitan suburban experience.
When it comes to multitasking buildings, our main starting point is how best to integrate or separate uses. For example, working on the heritage-listed New Charsfield near Albert Park Lake, which combines luxury residential dwellings with serviced apartments below, key considerations include how the building would interact with the street – functionally and aesthetically – and how best to create separate identities for residents and guests.
The result is a successful building that presents benefits for the developer, hotel operator and apartment resident alike. The developer was able to sell a third of its project to the hotel operator, who was able to present a compelling accommodation offering whereby guests could ‘experience the city like a local’ (a notion made popular by market disrupter Airbnb). Meanwhile, apartment residents enjoy aspects of hotel living without losing the status and identity associated with luxury accommodation.
Seamless integration was also an important issue when it came to planning The Glen Residences, which combine apartment living with a substantial retail and commercial offering below. A challenge here was ensuring minimal disruption to the retail shops, taking into account everything from the placement of lift wells, to where apartment drainage and other services should go.
Through thorough planning and understanding of intended uses for The Residences, we have achieved a CBD-style lifestyle community that affords residents immediate access to in-house restaurants and retailers, and where developers harness more value from their site and gain a competitive market edge.
While it might seem obvious to take a hotel or shopping centre and add apartments on top, these mixed-used projects take a high level of complex logistical planning, with an eye for what makes a space commercially viable, user-friendly and highly liveable in a climate where convenience and connectivity are expected.
With a history of successful projects across typologies, a desire to meet the challenges of designing mixed-use buildings and a willingness to push the design envelope, Rothelowman is invigorated by the challenge of bringing city living to the suburbs via buildings that offer more services within better reach.