SJB/FKA, Architects is a joint venture between the established and highly recognised architectural practices SJB and Fender Katsalidis. Both practices have a reputation for quality residential and commercial projects so it's no wonder that the team is responsible for the master-planning, design and documentation of the building and public areas of the NewQuay site at the Melbourne Docklands.
The Docklands are intended to be the final quarter of Melbourne's urban development: a harbour area that will stand apart from the nearby gardens, commercial district, and residential areas of north, south and east Melbourne. This new addition will, it is hoped, change the whole nature of Melbourne lifestyles and offer new promise and potential to the city.
The site is made up of 200 hectares of land to the west of the city and boasts seven kilometres of water frontage. NewQuay forms part of the first stage of an urban renewal project that will ultimately provide for 2,000 apartments and around 125,000 sqm of commercial and retail space. The vision was for a 24-hour city, vibrant and active; a mixed use development that featured a diversity of residential offerings that would appeal to a wide range of people and include the opportunity for leasing of marina facilities. The brief also placed an emphasis on artistic features throughout the buildings and the
precinct. As such, works by Adrian Mauriks, Matthew McCarthy, Paul Dodds and Alexander Knox have been added to the architectural designs in order to enrich the experience.
The first of the residential buildings in the development to be completed was the Arkley which comprises 176 apartments with retail and restaurant spaces at ground level (approx 1900 sqm) with a multi-deck car park for 240 cars. Completed in late 2001 the Arkley features roof-top recreational facilities and an integrated artwork applied to the north facade, titled 'Outside Inside Out' by Matthew McCarthy of Clear Design. Completed by mid 2002 were the Palladio and the Boyd towers and the Waterfront apartments of the Sant Elia. The Nolan, currently under construction, is a 24-level tower with a more individual feel, featuring glass and a unique facade comprised of enclosed balconies to provide dramatic projecting viewing pods for many of the apartments. This not only gives the residents a wonderful view, but allows passers by an aesthetic treat as well. All of this will be complemented by the proposed project, the Conder with an anticipated completion date in 2004.
Naturally the need to respect and protect while developing the valuable and beautiful water's edge property was a central focus for the project. Of fundamental concern was the careful placement of the buildings to ensure minimum environmental disruption whilst still allowing for maximum interaction with the promenade and water front areas. As part of the Development Agreement with the Docklands Authority, MAB Corporation is required to comply with an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) which sets out criteria and performance standards for the development. The Nolan and subsequent towers have a 4 star or greater energy rating and are also required to comply with an additional energy related design criteria which includes selection of materials. provision for bicycle parking, grey water reuse, recycling facilities and other initiatives.
NewQuay presents the opportunity for a new retail experience thanks to its waterfront attractions, which present retail options to Melbourne in a vibrant and exciting new way. Residents and visitors enjoy the benefit of a water's edge neighbourhood and are provided with a diversity of retail outlets in an immediate, sparkling marine environment. The layout and mix of retail outlets has been carefully considered and responds to the fundamental and inevitable pressures of all neighbourhood hubs. Restaurants, the primary outlets in the precinct, have been located along the high profile waterfront promenade. In the side streets of St Mangos Lane and RAKAIA and Aquitania Ways are the second tier retails offerings that feed off the exposure of the promenade, while third tier outlets are located along Caravel Lane.
The diversity was furthered by the introduction of the design feature 'The Follies' - two small highly detailed and exquisite buildings that were conceived of as a result of a student design competition organised by the developers MAB Corporation, SJB/FKA and RMIT University. These eye-catching buildings serve the humble but all-important function of providing ice cream and fish and chips to visitors, locals or holidaymakers.
The main plaza that projects out over the water also features two 'icon' restaurants designed by McGauran Giannini Soon Architects as part of a limited competition that was intended to provide a contrast in design and materials to the major components of the Dockland redesign and redevelopment. Like the Follies, the Plaza's design acts as a counterpoint to the larger towers, providing interest and variety along the journey through the development. Given the care and consideration that has gone into the SJB/FKA plans it seems almost guaranteed that interest and variety will be the hallmarks of the completed development.