Plants and trees. They can make a development amazing, but it’s not as easy as just designing them in, developers need to be delivering on promises to meet sustainability standards.
Planners and designers of the built environment have in recent years been more actively targeting sustainably conscious occupants and tenants by incorporating green initiatives not only into a project’s open and green spaces, but into the project itself.
With the growing concern for our climate, biophilic design is not just useful for its aesthetic qualities but can help in the fight against climate change.
Green infrastructure has the potential to attenuate carbon emissions, increase the biodiversity of plants and wildlife and help regulate the temperature of buildings.
“For people, more green space leads to better health outcomes, increased productivity and safer, more connected neighbourhoods,” Green Building Council of Australia chief executive Davina Rooney says.
“Green buildings produce better air quality and use less energy, they’re cooler and quieter, and they boast higher property values.
“And cities benefit too, from increased plant and animal habitats, lower pollution and carbon sequestration.”
The Urban Developer has shone a light on six projects that have championed green and open space.
We sat down with developers going above and beyond their design briefs to embody biophilic principles and accelerate the successful implementation of green architecture and development.
Frasers Property Australia’s $120-million Burwood Brickworks development in Melbourne's eastern suburbs is now recognised as the world’s most sustainable shopping centre.
The development, built on 18.5ha of land acquired in 2014, is the first retail centre in the world to achieve Living Building Challenge Petal Certification.
Anchored by Woolworths, Dan Murphy’s and Reading Cinemas, the 13,000 sq m centre incorporates a 2500sq m rooftop urban farm that provides food to community groups and an on-site restaurant. The building also has 250 citrus trees suspended on its northern facade.
The building generates 105 per cent of its annual energy requirements, grows its own fruit and vegetables, and captures, treats and uses all stormwater.
The centre also offers a range of convenient community non-retail facilities, including a 100-plus place childcare centre, a large gymnasium and a medical centre to meet the demand of the increasingly populated trade area.
It has been designed by Melbourne-based NH Architecture, with creative input from Russell and George, while Hacer Group were appointed as principal contractor.
The design features of the prefabricated mall include the use of sustainably sourced laminated timber, rammed earth and recycled bricks along with 3900sq m of billabong plantings and 2000sq m of vines.
Frasers Property Australia chief executive Anthony Boyd says the company set out to create a shopping centre that “elevates the sustainable possibilities of new developments and contributes to the regenerative buildings movement”.
“The vision for Burwood Brickworks was to redefine sustainability in retail by challenging ourselves in new and uncomfortable ways,” Boyd says.
“It meant exposing ourselves to possible failure, inviting new levels of scrutiny, balancing commercial feasibility, challenging our project partners to take the journey with us, and investing time and resources into working with our tenants, so they could play their essential role.”
Hailiang Property Group Australia has been given the green light for its $700-million parkside development in Sydney’s inner west at Alexandria, which it says will “blur the boundary between built form and the park landscape”.
The 350-apartment development is planned for 205-255 Euston Road, within the 44ha Sydney Park—the city’s third-largest public park.
It will replace two large warehouses and perimeter asphalt car parks that were owned by industrial giant Goodman Group.
The site is conceptualised as an extension of the neighbouring landscape of Sydney Park, which borders the three primary edges of the site.
The project is a design collaboration between Silvester Fuller, MHNDU and Sue Barnsley Design—stating in their proposal that their vision is to create a place that resonates and extends the ecology of the adjoining parkland.
“Our concept vision for One Sydney Park imagines the creation of a new park-side community,” it says.
“A place [that] will extend the ecology of the parkland and support a culture of creative enterprises and local business.”
The result is eight six-storey buildings that have been nestled into its parkside position with deep planting and significant setbacks blurring the edges of the tree canopy with the project.
Plans also include retail and dining precincts, and cultural and community spaces with 1.5ha reserved for public open space, and public art by acclaimed artist Fujiko Nakaya.
The complex will also include rooftop gardens, a health club, indoor lap pool and outdoor plaza while the arrival level will feature a subterranean space suffused with natural light, fresh air and a rich materiality.
HPG Australia development director Barney Oros says the “world-leading, mixed-use development” would showcase excellence in design, landscaping and construction while enhancing the ecology of the neighbouring park as well as bringing some long overdue amenities.
“Obviously the architecture and landscaping is world class but the ecological benefits, introduction of deep soil into the site, long overdue amenities to this neglected southern end of Sydney Park for the public are all part of our vision for One Sydney Park,” Oros says.
Sth Bnk by Beulah, set to become Australia’s tallest tower, will have the most comprehensive collection of amenities of any Australian skyscraper.
Based on a design by Dutch architecture firm UNStudio and Melbourne-based Cox Architecture, the $2.7-billion project at Melbourne's Southbank involves two twisting, terraced towers incorporating vertical gardens.
The taller of the project’s two towers, at 356m, will surpass another Southbank apartment tower, Australia 108, as well as the Q1 tower on the Gold Coast to claim the crown as the nation’s tallest skyscraper.
The 270,000sq m mixed-use precinct will comprise 27,000sq m of office space, 21,000sq m of retail as well as almost 9500sq m in food and drinks premises, a 202-key hotel and 800 apartments.
About 300 units, including apartments enlarged through amalgamations, have found owners so far, clocking up around $400 million in sales.
As the twin tower development rises into the sky, pocket parks will punctuate the building form and create a green oasis for the exclusive use of residents.
Beulah executive director Adelene Teh told The Urban Developer the development would not only become Australia’s tallest tower but also the tallest vertical garden in the world.
“Sth Bnk by Beulah is the next evolution of how people will live, work, play and explore,” Teh says.
“It's a hyper-mixed project that is pioneering what it means to create a city within a city.
“It represents our approach to design and culture, technology, sustainability, and wellness—how these meld together to set a benchmark in liveable city design, while creating an integrated vertical living and community.”
There are eight parks across the east tower, each designed to have its own unique character and function, from active spaces to places of rest and relaxation.
Acting as a local neighbourhood park and a private place for residents to get back to nature, features include exercise platforms, relaxation gardens, play spaces, urban farms, outdoor cooking and dining, and multi-storey landscaping filled with greenery.
The sky-high external garden will, once complete, attract birdlife, help to produce oxygen, provide vegetable patches and filter dust and pollution.
The development will also feature extensive greenery on the ground levels and surrounding outdoor areas, bringing the total landscaped area to over 15,500 square metres.
This includes carefully curating a selection of mother nature’s most resilient plants from coastal and mountainous areas, with placement to be based on the exact sunlight, wind and elevation characteristics of each square metre.
The chosen plant species will be developed in a dedicated nursery in Victoria, which will mature in the landscape beds in the years preceding installation, grown within similar environmental conditions to ensure they thrive in their new, permanent locations.
The Spooner family’s Caribbean Park is a new logistics business park set on about 120ha in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs that is uncharacteristically immersed in green and open space.
This new business precinct in Scoresby comprises office and warehouse buildings, an expansive parkland, retail areas and lifestyle facilities.
It now comprises 55,000sq m of office space across six towers, and is home to multinational tenants such as Toyota, Parmalat and Miele, and about 4000 daily workers. It has been built across a site that the family has owned since the 1940s.
The project also includes a 171-room hotel that provides accommodation and event space for visiting executives, surrounding businesses and those attending a growing calendar of events at the estate.
Peter Ryan Architects and landscape architect Oculus prepared the masterplan for the site in 2016, which was followed by commissions to design, in collaboration with Peter Ryan Architects, the landscape and public realm for stages one and two.
As part of its concept the design team ensured that the precinct was well connected with streets, promenades and pedestrian links while creating a green network to ensure comfortable and attractive places are available for all Caribbean Park users.
The result is a diverse sequential landscape experience that has been curated to celebrate key views and integrate the office environments within the landscape to create a unique urban expression.
The multi-layered landscape utilises a predominately native planting palette with an emphasis on texture and seasonal change.
Water is also a central character of the site and is reflected in the architecture, water features and material vocabulary.
The project was awarded the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Victoria Chapter, award for gardens in 2021.
The precinct is also the first Australian suburban office development of scale to achieve Climate Active carbon neutral certification.
Caribbean Park asset manager Tim Rubio says the achievement was the “perfect complement” to a development already regarded as the finest location for staff amenity and staff performance.
“We are delighted to have achieved this certification on all rateable office buildings and will continue our efforts of improvement and maintaining the commercial office buildings in a manner befitting of our natural environment and the needs of our occupant partners into the future,” Rubio says.
The tallest timber building in the world will rise in Perth, if approved, after a $350-million development application was lodged by Melbourne’s Grange Development in April.
Designed by architecture firm Elenberg Fraser, the 50-storey tower will be built from cross-laminated timber (CLT), and glue-laminated timber, or glulam.
Grange Development plans to return 85 per cent of the site to the community.
Residents of South Perth and those visiting the tower be able to enjoy the “tower to plate” food and beverage offering, nature themed playgrounds, educational and entertainment cinema, horticultural zone, and ground floor pre-settlement landscape complete with CLT-Rex.
Meanwhile C6’s rooftop encompasses gardens with extensive food and entertainment amenities. It will host guest chefs, live entertainment, and bookable private lounges and dining rooms for special events.
Grange Development managing director James Dibble told The Urban Developer that the rapidly shifting climate was the main driver behind the carbon-negative building.
“Biophilia is not new, its has been prominent in Japanese architecture for example for centuries,” Dibble says.
“In Australia, our industry is increasing its intent to deliver buildings that incorporate biophilic design and in turn, provide its residents happier and healthier homes and that’s a good thing backed by tangible.”
If it is approved by the City of South Perth, C6 will be Australia’s second carbon-negative building after the Atlassian tower, meaning it will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere rather than adding it.
Contributing to its carbon-negative status will be an embedded power network that will harness energy from the wind and sun and 3500 sq m of floral, edible and native gardens.
“In built form, I feel like I have been most myself with C6,” Dibble says.
“It draws on a previous 10-year IT career that taught me the importance of practicality and the elegance of simplicity.
“I want to leave the world a better place than we found it and this project will ‘push the needle forward’ in playing some small part in advancing a system that is replicable and superior to create a happier and healthier outcome for peoples homes.”
Aria Property Group is readying a 32-storey apartment project at the epicenter of South Brisbane’s arts and cultural precinct and adjoining West End’s eclectic dining and entertainment hub.
This project, comprising 188 apartments, four levels of basement car parking and a four-storey podium at street level will also feature an impressive rooftop area for residents and more than 3500 plants and trees.
The rooftop recreation deck on level 21 comprises a city-side infinity pool with sun lounges and sunken seating lounges. An outdoor kitchen and barbecue, as well as dining area, yoga lawn, outdoor gym and gardens are proposed.
Residents will also experience Australia’s first double-storey rooftop club as well as a ground-floor art gallery and innovative concierge services.
Aria tapped architecture firm Koichi Takada to design the 5-star Green Star tower, which is on the doorstep of Brisbane’s cultural and performing arts precinct. Takada was chosen from a design competition that included Elenberg Fraser, DKO and DBI.
Takada’s design features fluid sculptural “ribbon”, which he says referenced the roots of the Moreton Bay fig tree, a native to Queensland.
The design encapsulates sculptural balconies and curved spines that work their way from the ground level, culminating in a dramatic crown-like pergola at the roof of the development.
“At the heart of our business model is the question: how should we live today? It’s a complicated question, but our answer is simple,” Takada told The Urban Developer.
“As a studio, we draw inspiration from nature. By bringing nature’s ancient wisdom to the modern metropolis, we amplify enjoyment and satisfaction in our daily lives.
“Our modern cities are bound in contradictions, so we strive for purity and organic forms.”
Takada says Aria’s South Brisbane development was part of a slew of projects his architecture firm was overseeing that were using cutting edge technology to achieve the highest green standards possible.
“They are bold, aspirational, problem-solving projects that inspire and influence everything we do as a team in the studio,” Takada says.
“We create powerfully emotive architecture that is sensitive to our surroundings and reflects the human spirit through elegant and thoughtful designs.
“We also understand the limitations of the earth’s resources, so we practice moderation to help sustain the environment.”
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