NSW apartment of the week: Arena Apartments Newcastle

NSW apartment of the week: Arena Apartments Newcastle
NSW apartment of the week: Arena Apartments Newcastle

Sitting prominently on a coveted Newcastle Beach waterfront site is the new residential development, Arena Apartments. We caught up with Angus Rose, Design Director at DWP, who shared some of the inspiration behind the ultra-modern architectural design.

NSW apartment of the week: Arena Apartments Newcastle

Urban.com.au: Where did you draw inspiration from?

Angus Rose: Located immediately to the west of one of Australia’s premier beaches, Newcastle Beach, and within walking distance of the CBD, the recently completed Arena Apartments sit on a prestige site: the last of its kind in Newcastle.

Taking our cue from the landforms we looked at the geology of the surrounding area. In forming our concept for the building, we drew inspiration from the rock platforms, and stratification of the surrounding cliffs, responding to the horizontality of the geological layering and the organic randomness of the weathered rock pools and striations. The aesthetic is achieved with cantilevered balconies, loggias, material selection and accent framing elements applied to create a modern architectural outcome. Introducing a 'terraced' forecourt level as a green roof in part continues the framework into the urban plane. Juxtaposing the organic layering of the beachscape with the gritty angularity of the CBD built environment, the Arena Apartments is a threshold between the urban and beachside contexts and embodies these diametrically opposed architectural approaches to the built form.

NSW apartment of the week: Arena Apartments Newcastle

U: What were the top 5 features you decided had to be included in the development and why?

AR: The proposed development aims to enhance the existing city character by increasing ground-level setback for the entire depth of the western half of the site, minimise setbacks on the southernmost building and articulate the general facade elements to provide visual interest to the streetscape. Central to our design approach is the concept of view sharing, that is, creating areas of minimal development, within reason, to enable existing residents in the adjacent apartments to enjoy an outlook to the beach and beyond

Landscape treatments focussed our attention on private and communal outdoor areas, greening the forecourt opens views for neighbours and ties the development to the adjacent parkland and coastal context. In addition to this, a more formalised lushly vegetated promenade to the western side of the northern building allows for deciduous trees and evergreen shrubs to be planted creating areas of quiet contemplation that will shade in summer, and allow light and warmth in winter. Creation of vegetated areas on the ground planes brings the scale of interaction with the building to a human level, softens the junction of building to site and ties the development to the natural context. 

Capitalising on near 360 degree views of the best landmarks in Newcastle ranging from Newcastle Harbour and distant Stockton Beach to the north, to Newcastle Beach immediately South and up to heritage beacons like the Obelisk and Christchurch Cathedral in the west, the potential for views was clearly understood and a key consideration in the design process. In recognising the value of these views, and with the premium placed on the immediate view of Newcastle Beach to the south, creating a layout that permitted the maximum number of apartments to have unimpeded ocean views was paramount. 

As a developer-driven outcome, our design looked carefully at space utilisation making the most out of as little floor area as possible, increasing efficiency without sacrificing useability and delight. Balancing size of apartments with functionality and views we sought to bring lightness to our layouts and finishes to create a modern and fresh aesthetic.

Creating spaces that offer pragmatic solutions for the beach lifestyle - outdoor showers to wash off sandy feet and surfboards, separate connections to the ground plane to permit quick and easy access to the beach, and balconies that could be enclosed to shelter from strong southerly winds and inclement weather.

NSW apartment of the week: Arena Apartments Newcastle

U: What do you think buyers seek out the most in your development?

AR: We designed for a variety of apartment sizes which were collocated in such a way as to permit combinations and greater flexibility for a variety of living arrangements. Backing proximity to a beach with a direct view of the beach for over 80% of all apartments brought tangible value to buyers and is a key selling point. Aside from its location, the Arena Apartments is a place that delights and attracts. The design enables residents to feel secure in a durable, well finished and functional development. It is a landmark on the horizon, providing lifestyle choice, pitching to the broadest cross-section of the residential market possible and allowing equitable access into a premier beachside location.

NSW apartment of the week: Arena Apartments Newcastle

U: If you had to choose your favourite aspect of the building, what would it be?

AR: Whilst not particularly evident in the final product, meeting the minimum sizes as stipulated within SEPP 65 and creating a generous feel due to their layout and decks fronting views is something our design team is most proud of. The planning carefully considered maximising GFA that was useable apartment floor space, meaning that a greater proportion of the floor plate was realisable as habitable area. This in combination with the number of beach facing apartments allowed us to create the highest number of apartments with beach views. 

NSW apartment of the week: Arena Apartments Newcastle

U: What makes your project stand out from other properties on the market?

AR: Quality, Location, Aspect and Liveability. Arena Apartments was designed with the user in mind and made careful design considerations with the broadest cross-section of buyers in mind. The ability to combine apartments to make larger dwellings, focussing on maximising views and light within an efficient floor plate made the beachside lifestyle accessible to many.

Olivia Round

Olivia Round

Olivia Round is the Features Editor of urban.com.au. Olivia specialises in news reporting, in-depth editorial content and video + podcast interviews with industry experts.

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