Newcastle shows the monetary value of good design


Newcastle East End is a massive project on a 1.66 hectare site acquired by Iris Capital, with a master plan in place, from GPT Group and state developer UrbanGrowth for $ 39 million in 2016.

The first floor of four buildings is built around a sunny public courtyard. Tom roe

But the key to achieving the high values ​​in the first stage of the apartments, on the block bordered by Hunter, Perkins, King and Wolfe streets came from an unusual process that allowed designers to work with consent authorities and l government architect and modify the master plan. while they worked on the detailed design.

This was unusual because such contact is not allowed under the standard design competition procurement method. But planning authorities elsewhere should adopt the same system to get the best design and value possible at complex sites, according to the architects.

“Of all the consent processes, I think this is the most successful we have worked with,” said Tim Greer, director of Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects.

“When sites are complex, this iterative process could potentially create a better outcome than a one-off design competition. With a competition, you don’t get such deep and rich thinking.

Design competitions have played a useful role in raising the standard of buildings in Sydney, but purchasing was yet to change, Mr Greer said.

“We may have come to a point where the standard has been lifted and now we need to start implementing more sophisticated methods to deliver design excellence and architecture,” he said.

A collaborative process between designers and managers allowed architect TZG to turn his Washington House building, right, approximately 90 degrees, to give all apartments light and views and to ensure that the sun penetrates the yard. Tom roe

Durbach Block Jaggers director David Jaggers agreed.

“The advantage of not having a competition is that you are not separate from your customers and you are not collaborating, but from the start you are working together,” Jaggers said. “This end result is a better result.”

The first stage of the project includes four buildings – three mixed-use residential buildings already completed and a QT hotel, which will be completed early next year in the former David Jones department store building, sitting around a courtyard central on one block from downtown.

Mr. Greer’s company, TZG, and DBJ each design a building, SJB designing the third building as well as the hotel.

In 2017, the process saw architects consult with Newcastle City Council’s Urban Design Advisory Group and obtain approval to change the orientation of the approved building envelope to give all apartments light. and views, while reducing the built form east to west along Hunter Street. Mall.

“There would have been some aspect of the north facing apartments and the well designed south facing apartments, but they wouldn’t have had the sun, wouldn’t have had the view,” Mr. Greer said.

“This enabled us to significantly improve the interior design of the building and therefore the performance of the building. The apartments were nice, were better, had a view of the water.

The turning of the building also made it possible – crucially – to let light enter the central public space created between the four buildings.

Aerial view of the first stage, with Fabric House designed by Durbach Block Jaggers, to the right in brick, Perkins & King designed by SJB, to the left in white, and the Washington House designed by TZG, in the center (obscured). Tom roe

The collaborative process was faster because at the time of filing the development request, the different consent authorities all knew and understood the project and how it worked, said Adam Haddow, director of SJB – and author of the original plan.

“The worst thing we can do is run DA on people’s desktops and expect people to understand them all by reading a document or taking 4000 pages of data – drawings, written descriptions – and s ‘expecting them to understand all of this at once, “Mr. Haddow mentioned.

“It takes less time and costs less money. The speed of an approval is related to the clarity of the information people have to rate something. If you can have a clear understanding of what is going on, it will happen faster ”,

The $ 300 million Newcastle East End first leg is nearing completion and work has started on the second leg of 112 apartments and five townhouses. Steps three and four, currently in advanced planning, are expected to be completed within five years and will include, if an agreement can be reached with the council, the construction of a staircase from Hunter Street to Christchurch Cathedral.

“Newcastle can only prosper if the East End succeeds,” Arnaout said.

But the project showed the need – and the value that could come from it – for a willingness to adjust design and approval processes, Greer said.

“A city is like an organism, it thrives, dies, recedes and regenerates itself,” he said. “It’s a bit like maintaining a garden, you never rest on your laurels. We have to keep thinking about different processes all the time.

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