This large residential scheme of 241 family houses, duplex units and 1, 2 and 3 bed apartments is located on an elevated suburban site of circa 7.2 hectares /18 acres, of which 4.4 hectares /11 acres are zoned as amenity land forming an integral part of a local river valley linear park .The remainder of the site is zoned for residential development. The lands have extensive local road frontage and fall steeply (1:10) from the roadside into the river valley itself. The site enjoys a fine open aspect southward toward municipal botanic gardens, a cemetery and to mountains beyond. It is situated between existing semi-detached housing and the linear buildings of a local school and adjoins a Quality Bus Corridor.
The open character of the site must be retained (planning requirement) and open views through the site were fundamental to the design. Resolving issues of universal access, rational dwellings layouts and buildability on a steeply sloping site were the challenge. The development presents an opportunity for a medium density project which seeks to develop new housing typologies while integrating landscape and a simple urban pattern into a form of development which is developer and market driven. It promotes the use of apartments and housing within a legible urban form which is underpinned by a robust landscape strategy.
The urban pattern is based on a series of stepped, cascading linear gardens framed by parallel linear blocks and dropping down from the roadside to the valley. Each garden is intensively landscaped providing differing zones of activity and treatment and integrating into the existing site contours, while being supervised from the balconies and terraces of the enclosing buildings. The linear stepped gardens are defined by 3 to 6 storey buildings which have continuous balconies and inset living rooms and where ground floor apartments have generous patios and zones of privacy planting defining the public and private edge. The circulation is conceived as a simple road pattern dictated by levels, and creates a sequence of formal avenues to shared entrance courts which are clear and legible, descending in scale and becoming increasingly private in character.
Each apartment block contains a full length central linear atrium creating a generous internal street which steps down the hill with the site contours. All apartments enjoy dual aspect and all units have east or west orientations and overlook the linear gardens. The design provides for interesting and dramatic circulation areas, offering opportunities for neighbors to meet up while enjoying impressive views to the south.Each block is designed to be a truly sustainable building type, where circulation areas (south facing) become energy stores helping to heat and ventilate the atriums and where high levels of insulation and air tightness are achieved.
The various family house types are laid out in a terrace format, reinforcing and replicating the local urban vernacular while achieving a mix of types from 3-storey townhouses (with sunken ground floors) to 2 and 3 bed duplex types overlooking shared gardens and leading finally to a series of apartment buildings which are perched spectacularly on an escarpment overlooking the river valley below. The site layout provides an animated streetscape and an accessible and generously landscaped public realm and retains the essential openness of the original site with visual links to the valley, the botanic gardens and beyond.
The landscape strategy reinforces the simple urban structure, creating a hierarchy of robust spaces, each having a distinctive character, from the public viewing platform near the adjoining access roadway to the passive ornamental gardens below and into the large river valley park.
The treatment of apartment buildings is based on creating a solid masonry base above which the upper floors rise as light glazed linear elements, with continuous balconies and a varied facade of glass and infill panel. The effect is of an exaggerated perspective drawing to the framed view.