Design’s the limit

Business News

21st September 2020.

Architecture firm Bates Smart hopes it can raise the bar for vertical living through its design of what will be one of South Perth’s tallest towers.

Changing established beliefs often takes time and no shortage of measured argument, and never more so than for proponents of high-rise development in Perth.

In recent years, planning schemes across the Perth metropolitan area have been amended to accommodate density requirements, as part of a broader plan to curb the state’s sprawling nature and promote residential urban infill.

Change hasn’t come without some growing pains, however, in the form of community pushback and project knock backs.

But that density debate is starting to mature, as councils and developers work to find a middle ground, resulting in several apartment developments now being under way.

One of the tallest of these is the $165 million 28 Lyall South Perth residential tower by joint venture partners Sirona Capital and CEL Developments; a ground floor plus 37-level building housing 98 residences (some two levels with private office suites).

The property developer initially proposed 44 storeys on the corner of Labouchere Road and Lyall Street, subsequently shedding a few levels after extensive mediation and collaboration with the City of South Perth’s Design Review Panel, leading to a revised plan drawn up by national architecture firm Bates Smart.

Design played a key role in the project’s approval late last year, with the (then) state government architect Geoff Warn describing the design of 28 Lyall as: “Distinctive and memorable, with the potential to deliver an exceptional landmark for the area”.

That spotlight on architectural design is a trend Bates Smart director Philip Vivian expects to become even more apparent as Perth’s building heights continue to climb.

“There’s an added responsibility that comes with buildings that might stand out from their context,” Mr Vivian told Business News.

“As soon as you are building tall there is an added responsibility on architects because you are building something that’s visually quite obvious and will be there for quite a long time.

“Our approach [was for it] to belong its context, timeless and not to design something that feels fashionable and is great in 2020, but by 2025 you wish you hadn’t built it.

“The concept grew out of the DNA of South Perth, a distinctive place with its own identity, characterised by single-storey homes and four- to five-storey apartment buildings.”

Mr Vivian, who grew up in Perth but is now Sydney based, said 28 Lyall was Bates Smart’s first high-rise project in Perth, and followed a series of luxury residential towers the firm had designed in Sydney and Melbourne.

For this project, he said, there was a focus on offering a collection of larger apartments – 200 square metre spaces – he described as ‘sky villas’.

“Instead of creating a singular tall building, we took South Perth’s two dwelling types and stacked them vertically,” Mr Vivian said.

“Single-storey villas separate five-storey apartment volumes. They are vertically stacked in recessed slots and framed by horizontal planes to create a feeling of floating.

“They’re like a house in the sky where you can choose to have the same space if not more than you’d have on a standard residential lot.”

Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly said the development was focused specifically on targeting owner- occupiers, offering larger residences with two to four residences per floor.

“Historically, apartments in Perth have not been designed particularly well, with a cookie cutter approach, little or no innovation, and standardised stock, irrespective of market segment,” Mr McNeilly said.

Mr Vivian said Bates Smart had sought to steer away from the standard concrete wrap-around balconies, instead incorporating glass enclosed rooms, designed to suit the area’s windy conditions.

The project will also feature amenities including a pool deck and wellness centre, ground floor cafe and meeting room, public gallery space, private offices and medical suites.

“People can live and work from home, which I think is part of the future,” Mr Vivian said. Construction is expected to start in early 2021, and Mr Vivian said he hoped the local community and residents would see 28 Lyall South Perth as a building that was carefully considered.

“As an architect … it is particularly nice to be able to contribute to Perth as it grows vertically, rather than horizontally, into a more global and vibrant city,” he said.