President Avenue Apartments
Project status: Completed in 2016
Location: 558 – 566 President Avenue, Sutherland
Photography: Brett Boardman
AIA Aaron M. Bolot Award Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing, 2017
We were asked some eight years ago to look at this site which foreshowed a new street, a new place. Behind the aspiration to create a new character to an entire place, was the process to realise it and yet, this was a site that could gain much from the development of a new character.
The site incorporates the busy President Avenue to the north and wonderful views to the Royal National Park to the south. This created a problem since we needed to ensure the living spaces received ample sunlight access to the north but also addressed to this wonderful aspect to the south.
We created a plan that situated living spaces to the north and their respective kitchens and dining rooms to the south. This allowed for all the units to achieve ample natural sunlight access but also to have the ability to be cross ventilated right through the living spaces. The amenity provided to these apartments is therefore synonymous with the amenity enjoyed by detached dwellings in the local area.
The built-form of the project is designed to afford high-quality living spaces for its occupants and concurrently to enhance the future character of the area without compromising the amenity of the surrounding streets and residences. To the President Avenue frontage, the articulated corners and modulated timber screens serve to break-down the apparent mass of the elevation, providing a vertically proportioned façade. After a certain height, a building’s mass is mitigated by vertical rather than horizontal articulation. We found this idea in this project when we were asked to create a building higher than 5 storeys with the same plan. Windows and balconies on the northern façade are heavily lightly screened with concrete blades that serve to maximise the amenity of each of the proposed units, allowing for sunlight access to living and terrace areas whilst maintaining visual privacy to occupants. The concrete roof is designed with deep recesses to cap the building against the sky and to emphasise the building’s connection with the landscape. The delicate use of a Japanese-style slot window allows light to enter the balconies and such that we can read a paper on a Saturday morning. A screen of timber stops the light if it is too intense on the page.
The landscape has been designed to complement the high quality architecture both in form and finishes. Dense plantings of Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’ have been used along the fence line, helping to absorb air borne pollutants and mediating the effects of the traffic. Their rich rust coloured underside brings to mind the character of the Port Jackson Fig tree and their presence gives privacy to the front units.
Materials such as render, natural timbers, concrete façade, timber screens and taupe colours reflect the colours of the surrounding vegetation in the area and the Royal National Park, and the textural variations in the materials create a hierarchy of solid and void elements across the site.