1 on 1 with Oz Property's Raghav Goel
Oz Property is looking to add to its growing medium-density portfolio with its latest development, the aptly named Shelley St, located on the corner of Shelley and Garfield Streets in Richmond. The DKO Architecture-designed development comprises nine three-storey townhouses sited around a communal landscaped courtyard garden.
Through the use of brick and a saw tooth roof line, the development has been designed to pay homage to Richmond's industrial past and the site's former use as a warehouse.
Established in 2007, Oz Property believe in delivering sustainable, considered developments around key activity zones for a rapidly evolving and growing Melbourne market. With a strategy of appointing Melbourne's leading architects, builders and planners, Oz Property aims to consistently deliver high quality projects based on sound financial outcomes.
Previous projects delivered by Oz Property around Melbourne include Panorama on Lakeside, Balaclava Residences, On the Park and Highwood.
Urban.com.au sat down with Oz Property Director, Raghav Goel to discuss the company's latest project, and get a bit of insight into the business's approach to site acquisition and development.
Urban.com.au: How do you approach site acquisition? Do you seek out sites based on whether you have already determined that you want to develop a townhouse or apartment development? Or do you let the site determine that?
Raghav Goel: It's very adapted. We have had preconceived notions before but you quickly realise that's not the way to approach it. We tend to focus on where we can add value. Any site that has an existing permit is much harder for us to add value to because it has already had a lot of work done so we try to focus on sites off market and ones that don't have a scheme in place already.
We love medium-density development and it's something that we're keen on continuing to develop. For us there's no set formulas in site acquisition.
U: And to follow up on that, you develop properties all over Melbourne, there's no particular region or suburb that you're fixated with.
RG: And that's what excites us - that challenge of doing something new, something different each time. We have a very strong relationship with our consultants and that's something we tend to carry forward. It's amazing how the same architect and consultant team can come up with a completely different scheme for a different location.
U: You've previously worked with DKO and SLAB on The Workshop in Collingwood and this has carried through to Shelley St.
RG: We've got that relationship working with DKO going back almost ten years now, and Shelley St is probably our sixth project working with them. They also did Highwood with us and we also worked with them on Ascot Vale Road before Caydon purchased the site. That's a relationship we've maintained and as our businesses grow the whole approach tends to evolve, which is exciting isn't it?
U: One thing DKO do very well is design a project within its context. Looking at the design response to a project in Collingwood compared to say Ringwood or Richmond, it's evident the context is considered. At Shelley St this association with the context comes through in the saw tooth profile and brick exterior, which draws on the industrial nature of its locale.
RG: (DKO) have been fantastic and SLAB as well, in how they do things and it really is a true collaboration in every sense of the word. In the beginning you tend to sit around a table - much like we're doing right now - and just come up with ideas.
We provide our architects and consultants with really simple briefs at the beginning of a project, and with the brief for Shelley St one of the critical aspects was we really wanted to provide independent street access to each townhouse and we wanted something standalone so that it almost feels like a terrace but with a contemporary and environmentally sustainable approach... natural daylight, ventilation etc.
How we ended up with the saw tooth (roofs) how we ended up with the brick (exterior) that came from the architect's expression of how they saw the site. And the project feels like it just belongs in Richmond, doesn't it? We're quite pleased with the design and looking forward to seeing it realised.
U: With these more urban townhouse typologies we're seeing them developed almost as a hybrid - they're an ensemble of individual townhouses which collectively form a cohesive composition but appear more like an apartment building.
RG: I'd say it's probably about the balance of medium-density development. Definitely these have individual street access and frontages but the architectural form and expression is a 'whole' and that's how they read together on the streetscape. That's just as critical because if you were doing a standalone house, with a saw tooth form, all brick with such large windows, its probably going to stand out.
Something like this on a corner site, in an urban location you get the added benefits of a communal courtyard space through the middle which provides a sense of security and a sense of community for people who want it. It's interesting how some people don't like the idea of neighbours, so (Shelley St) gives you the option of engaging with your neighbours if you want, but also retreating back into the privacy of your own home if that's what you prefer.
An apartment building with a shared and enclosed corridor will never provide you with that, and townhouses tend to allow for that more commonly, which is good because it appeals to a slightly different market - the owner-occupier - who have been there and done that, and now realise what they want.
U: What buyer type would you see buying into Shelley St?
RG: If you look at say, The Workshop in Collingwood - which again DKO and SLAB designed for us - it's interesting because we thought the demographic there was going to be young professionals, potentially 30-somethings looking at their second or third home because those were loft-style apartments... split level of about 70-80 square metres. In the end we actually saw a whole lot of 20-somethings who were really excited to get into the market and saw that they could either live in it or have it as an investment property as well.
Coming back to (Shelley St) we aren't ruling that out although we think it will probably be suited more towards 30-somethings, potentially with kids or with kids on the way. But you know, you tend to see instances where they get support from mum and dad so you can't rule anything out.
U: You mentioned the development has a central courtyard. Does that mean the townhouses have a dual aspect or in the case of the corner a triple aspect?
RG: There's actually three streets, so there's obviously Shelley and Garfield but then there's also a laneway along the rear off Shelley Street, which provides individual access to the four townhouses at the back and then the five along Garfield although The Fifth is a bit hidden.
That was critical because we wanted to maintain that streetscape, and there's an existing building adjacent to the site so we wanted to drop down in scale with the townhouse on the end. It's similar to what we did at Balaclava (Residences) as well. Interestingly when you walk down the street, it's almost as if the building has always been there but it's brand new, it sits comfortably in the streetscape. That's what excites us about medium density - it's not something bold and brash that changes the dynamic of the streetscape. As you walk you subconsciously realise there's something pleasant on the street.
I think that's the direction Melbourne is going in and the type of streetscapes we're likely to see across the city in the future - well designed medium-density. Don't get me wrong, we can all appreciate Melbourne's skyline and its striking buildings but I think it's critical for our inner-suburbs to evolve architecturally.