Placemakers decide what a new apartment block needs to become a community asset.
They refer to their craft — designing public-use spaces, from retail to social, which make sense for the broader community — as both an art and a science.
Placemaking isn’t new but it is a buzz word Australians perusing off-the-plan real estate will hear more often, as apartment towers continue to sprout, from cities to suburbs.
Developer Sterling Global, which is behind a 70-level building planned for Melbourne’s 383 La Trobe Street and designed by revered French architect Jean Nouvel, enlisted placemaking firms Oculus and Village Well.
A third of the site will be accessible to everyone in the CBD, not just the skyscraper’s residents or commercial occupants, and includes a laneway network, a gallery, and animated light installation featuring different artists.
Village Well’s managing director and founder Gilbert Rouchecouste is credited with reviving Melbourne’s now buzzing, iconic laneways, transforming them from thoroughfares to destinations in their own right.
Sterling Global’s head of investment and development Mark van Miltenburg said placemaking was derived from “a premise that there is more to cities than very tall buildings”, and will be part of the developer’s future projects.
Melbourne-based architect, DKO principal Koos de Keijzer said placemaking was far more nuanced than incorporating a ground floor cafe into a property development.
The artisan green grocer with a cold-drip proficient barista is sometimes part of it, but thoughtful placemaking goes much further.
“We do a lot of large-scale communities — 1000 or 2000 dwellings — and in the last 10 or 15 years, clients, urban designers and architects have realised you cannot just build a community out of houses, streets and parks, you actually need to have quite a strong social aspect to it,” de Keijzer said.
“A large job we are doing in Christchurch (New Zealand), we are working on 1000 apartments in the eastern part of the city, and working closely with placemakers there, and in doing that starting to bring communities together in social spaces.”
DKO has paired with architects from Breathe to design a 153-apartment project in Sydney’s Alexandria, which has been split into five smaller buildings, each with its own community garden and social zones.
The Eve apartments in once-industrial Erskineville in Sydney, created by DKO for upmarket developer Fridcorp, includes a forecourt which is for community use, and is also the formal entry for residents.
“By breaking up bigger buildings into a series of smaller buildings, you really start to foster this strong sense of community,” de Keijzer said.
“It is all about trying to stifle that anonymity of those spaces and buildings that are not public. Making lobbies places where people can recreate and meet others…they are really important things.
“It is not as simple as putting a cafe down the bottom (of a development). That is helpful in some sense, but what we are interested in is the non-commercialisation of it, such as community gardens.”
Date: 21st July 2016
Author: Emily Power