7 March 2024

Amenity-rich design sets benchmark for build-to-rent living on Northbourne

| Ian Bushnell
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Artist's impression of the 220 Northbourne Avenue build-to-rent project.

An artist’s impression of the 220 Northbourne Avenue build-to-rent project. The approved design is a big selling point for the prime site. Image: Fender Katsalidis.

Canberra developer Evri Group may have dropped its build-to-rent proposal at 220 Northbourne Avenue in Braddon and put the prime block on the market but the project approval remains in place for the successful buyer.

Architect Fender Katsalidis is proud of its design for the $250 million three-structure project, which, if taken up, will add 393 apartments, a commercial building and ground floor retail space to the light rail corridor.

It says the design sets a high bar for build-to-rent accommodation, which will become an increasingly important part of the residential landscape in Canberra.

There are challenges for the nascent sector but the national capital, with its high property prices and large turnover of government and corporate workers, is ideally suited for secure, stable rental accommodation that also offers quality amenity.

Fender Katsalidis says the range of studio, one, two and three-bedroom rentals will appeal to Canberra’s broad demographic of renters, including students, families and young professionals.

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Associate principal David Robinson said the build-to-rent typology in Canberra was in its infancy but was a critically important addition to residential living.

“We’re thrilled to continue shaping the landscape in Australia’s Capital Territory and set a standard for excellence in build-to-rent living,” he said.

“Providing a richness of amenity and experience to residents was front of mind throughout our design process, and ensuring that community-centric living and convenience are central to the design.

“We’re really excited to be paving the way for this new type of living in such an important location for the city.”

Artist's impression of the 220 Northbourne Avenue build-to-rent project.

The three distinct buildings will front the light rail corridor, providing an ideal location for tenants.

The 10,663-square-metre site is connected via a series of gardens, plazas and laneways to provide quality spaces and connections for the community and convenient access to amenities.

Featuring co-working areas, wellness facilities, a rooftop terrace, community hubs, a resident cinema and sports lounge, plans also included supporting artists in residence and programmed events to enliven the precinct and foster an active and vibrant ground plane experience.

Each building has a distinct facade which the architect says will enrich the diversity of the precinct and provide a sense of address.

The northern building defines a new plaza at the intersection of Northbourne and Wakefield avenues and provides a distinguished address to both.

The largest central building’s lower floors present a rhythmic grid expression to Northbourne Avenue and references celebrated architect Robin Boyd’s Churchill House to the south, while the upper floors are more sculptured.

The southern building steps down to the east, providing external terraces and breakout spaces for the commercial tenancies, and engages with a highly landscaped laneway set to also feature urban art.

The central building features a dramatic enclosed glass-roof atrium over ground-floor residential amenities and tenancies, and connects to a north-south internal link.

“We wanted to create a moment of surprise for people when they enter the atrium,” Mr Robinson said. “We hope the dynamism of the space coupled with the rich landscape and enclosed roof will captivate Northbourne Avenue’s residents and visitors.”

The eighth-floor rooftop garden offers residents views across the north and east of the capital’s bush landscape.

Artist's impression of the 220 Northbourne Avenue build-to-rent project.

The front of the commercial building will step down to the east, providing external terraces and breakout spaces for tenancies.

To manage Canberra’s climate extremes, the architect conducted rigorous testing and analysis of energy use across the full buildings, saying it was integral to informing the design and location of apartments and living spaces.

The architect worked closely with ESD Consultants to examine glazing performance, shading, window-to-wall ratios and the placement of balconies and wintergardens.

This resulted in a 31 per cent reduction in cooling peak loads, a 13 per cent reduction in heating peak loads, and a 23 per cent reduction in total energy demand.

The sculptural horseshoe form of the central residential building features open-air corridors that provide through-apartment cross-ventilation and enable greater flexibility in living through the warmer months.

Carefully considered solar access and efficient materials were chosen to create high-performing facades across the year.

Landscape is a critical component of the design.

Northbourne Avenue’s formal landscape has been integrated into the ground plane of the precinct, while the heavily landscaped lower ground of the precinct maximises tree coverage and site permeability.

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Working in partnership with landscape architecture and urban design experts Oculus, the design features native plants providing year-round greenery and boosting tree canopy coverage and habitat biodiversity.

“We’ve carefully designed spaces that respond to Canberra’s distinct climate, to create functional, flexible, and enjoyable outdoor places for people to inhabit year round,” Oculus senior associate Peta Miskovich said.

CBRE selling agent Nic Purdue told Region that when the site was listed last month, the approved DA was a significant selling point as it removed planning risk for a developer.

“The preference amongst the target market for a site like 220 Northbourne Avenue is for a clean deal – acquire the land on a clean basis and undertake the project themselves,” he said.

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I just hope that once it’s bought they start building straight away. Any news on the larger block North West of the intersection? Assuming that’s starting construction soon?

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