FK's Nicky Drobis on Parque's design credentials

FK's Nicky Drobis on Parque's design credentials
FK's Nicky Drobis on Parque's design credentials

Now complete, Parque is an upmarket residential development on St Kilda Road comprising two glazed towers accommodating 332 luxury apartments. Designed by Fender Katsalidis the towers are connected by a private outdoor area on Level 8, featuring a 25-metre infinity pool.

The level 11 clubhouse has a library, a function room, outdoor terraces and a private dining room and kitchen designed by Shannon Bennett, with expansive views of Melbourne.  

The client, SP Setia, presented the design team with an existing building approval that negotiated the area’s building height restrictions and envelope controls. However, Fender Katsalidis still saw this as a unique project that warranted careful consideration and could take its cues from its natural environmental context.

FK's Nicky Drobis on Parque's design credentials
Landscape was a major influence and driver for the design of Parque. Image: Supplied

This led to a design conceived for placing a building ‘in the round’, with 360- degree views, that absorbed its park environment. The Western tower fronts St Kilda Rd and spans 11-storeys, stepping down to 8-storeys in the centre to preserve views of the Shrine of Remembrance and the city, before rising to 19-storeys at the Eastern tower.

Both towers feature highly articulate, curved glass curtain wall facades with recessed panels providing the facade with depth and capturing light and shadows. 

The neighbouring heritage listed grounds feature 150-year-old elms listed on the National Trust of Australia's register of significant trees, requiring careful site coordination to ensure trees were protected throughout construction. 

It’s an incredible location, adjacent to a heritage park, which will always be protected and is in fact part of the development. A truly unique site along St Kilda Road.

The buildings' form is drawn from the contours of nature to create the two curvilinear tower volumes that define Parque. We are in this remarkable spot, so everything about the building is working from the inside out to maximise views for residents.

Literally reflecting the park location, we arrived at an expression that has 100 percent glazing around the two building volumes. The reflective glass facade let us create a beautiful pattern of recessed and flush glazed panels.

It's very different depending on what the environment of the day might be; it changes with the light and the seasons, just as the deciduous trees of the park do.

The entry experience is really quite remarkable. You have two entries into the building at ground level and it is very much a grand lobby experience. It's probably the largest residential lobby we've ever designed and is beautifully clad, wallpapered in travertine stone, so it's quite a stunning environment.

The residences are very luxurious, with a level of amenity and appointment that can be likened to a hotel experience. All of the apartments are terrifically sized.

When we began the development’s design, this was not necessarily what the Melbourne marketplace was generally demanding or offering, so we are very proud of setting an industry standard with Parque.

- Nicky Drobis, Director, Fender Katsalidis Katsalidis (FK) had to work within an existing approved envelope. What was the brief from SP Setia for Parque? Who was the target market for the development and how did this ultimately inform the design of the apartments and resident areas?

Nicky Drobis: The brief from SP Setia was for FK to design a building worthy of its heritage listed location. They understood the importance of this site within the broader context of St Kilda Road and had the desire to develop a building that would of course succeed commercially but also genuinely contribute to and enrich Melbourne’s built environment.  

FK needed to stay within the restrictions of the Shrine Vista Controls which by their nature encourage buildings that are lower towards St Kilda Road and higher towards the Eastern end of the site which results in two volumes at different heights linked by a podium piece in the centre. However, a key factor in SP Setia’s brief that enabled FK to fully explore the design potentials for the site was their understanding of the value of good design could indeed provide more value to a development than necessarily maximising an allowable building volume.

The brief also responded to SP Setia’s understanding of the lack of supply at the time in Melbourne of apartments which would attract owner occupiers and investors alike. Hence the apartment mix is varied and the apartments were larger than those typically in the market place at the time.

SP Setia is also known internationally as a developer who invests heavily in providing a wonderful amenity offer to residents in their developments, and this is definitely the case at Parque.

UM: Parque is located within a historically and culturally significant pocket of St Kilda Road. What were some of the challenges involved in working in such a sensitive context?

ND: There is wonderful complexity in the immediate built environment surrounding the Parque site, including historically significant buildings such as the former Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, the Wesley College campus and the heritage listed park in which our building is sited. Our intention was to design a building which would not compete with its heritage neighbour to the south east and was responsive in form and material to its landscaped context.

In so doing the building forms are not directly referencing our context, but rather are a sculptural insertion which very much literally reflect the immediate surrounds in the glazed façade.

FK's Nicky Drobis on Parque's design credentials
Parque has been designed to be responsive in form and material to its landscaped context, says FK Director Nicky Drobis. Image : Supplied

UM: They say the ultimate test of any development is whether or not the developer or architect lives there. Are any members of the project team also residents in the development?

ND: There are indeed numerous members from the Development, Architectural and Construction team that own homes and live in Parque. The purchaser demand for the apartments was very strong and we never got to use the purpose built marketing suite to its full effect as the development sold out so quickly!

UM: SP Setia is obviously very happy with the finished product as FK has also been engaged to design 308 Exhibition Street. Can you tell us a bit about the working relationship with SP Setia?

ND: Our relationship with SP Setia has been an enriching and successful one. The Setia team bring with them a long history of quality developments centred in Malaysia that reaches globally, so there is the wisdom that comes with that.

They have astute local leadership supported by a strong team that work very cohesively. A fantastic part of our experience has been to learn from and enjoy SP Setia’s business culture which is embracing and supportive.

Close relationships across the entire consultant team and industry can be fostered in this environment.

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.

Fender Katsalidis Nicky Drobis Parque SP Setia St Kilda Road Hickory


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