The Design Details: Fender Katsalidis Architects discuss Riverlee's mixed-use Docklands development Seafarers

Fender Katsalidis were tasked with reimagining the heritage-protected Goods Shed 5, preserving the only intact remnants from the days before containerisation

The Design Details: Fender Katsalidis Architects discuss Riverlee's mixed-use Docklands development Seafarers
Seafarers striking entry. Image supplied

The Docklands development Seafarers will be immediately recognised with its unique and striking facade when it is completed in 2024.

The $500 million development by the Melbourne-based developer Riverlee on the banks of the Yarra River is part of the rejuvenation of the Northbank precinct at the end of Flinders Street.

The global architecture firm Fender Katsalidis were tasked with reimagining the heritage-protected Goods Shed 5, preserving the only intact remnants from the days before containerisation.

Recently Urban caught up with Nicky Drobis, director at Fender Katsalidis, to discuss the development and how the design came to fruition.

JR: What was the brief for Seafarers from Riverlee?

ND: The brief was to design Melbourne’s most dynamic mixed-use precinct, which restored and celebrated the site’s heritage as the heart of the development.

It was also to create a development that connected to the Yarra River and the natural environment, resulting in plans for the new park at Seafarers Rest.

The goal was to achieve true diversity within the building with entertainment, health and wellbeing, as well as luxury hotel accommodation.

JR: What interested you in the project?

ND: Beyond the brief itself, and the opportunities it afforded to create a new community within Melbourne, the most interesting part of the project would be the actual building. This is an important part of the revitalisation of the broader Northbank section of the Yarra River, which is undergoing a metamorphosis. The resulting building and community will soon make Seafarers a destination in its own right.

JR: What were the key priorities?

ND: The careful retention and restoration of the heritage-listed Goods Shed No. 5 and the Malcolm Moore Electric Crane were key to celebrating Melbourne and the Yarra River’s industrial heritage.

We also prioritised the view opportunities across the site, not only to the river, but back towards the CBD and Docklands areas.

Looking at it holistically, we focused on an environmentally sustainable design that incorporated key initiatives for a development of this scale.

Finally, we wanted to create enchanting and intriguing journeys through unique building experiences for hotel visitors and residents.

JR: Was the string of amenities high on the priority list?

ND: A focus on health and wellbeing was fundamental in the design process of the building. We have designed numerous wellness spaces which directly engage with the natural environment and incorporate living green, in addition to the landscaped terrace spaces.

A selection of private amenities includes a library and lounge, dining rooms, spa and sauna spaces and a rooftop garden.

JR: What was the biggest challenge in conceiving the design?

ND: As much as a mixed-use development can be a challenge, this adds increased complexity, requiring a higher level of design thinking and execution.

The numerous challenges of design and construction start with the heritage shed, then work through those associated with the different uses.

In a planning sense, you have a cantilevered element of the building laid on top of the heritage shed, as well as the addition of a basement, while multiple uses are split horizontally throughout the building.

JR: Was it difficult to combine the residential apartment element with the hotel space?

ND: There are great synergies afforded by residents being able to utilise all the food and beverage offerings provided by the hotel. However, we’ve worked carefully to create independent spaces for residents to provide them with a sense of exclusivity and privacy within the building. This way we can offer residents their own exclusive spaces, while allowing them to use every bit of the hotel.

JR: Had you done this on a previous project?

ND: Yes. A lot of our work has involved precinctual design and mixed-use buildings, with all the complexities and opportunities that come with each. Seafarers is not dissimilar, albeit in a singular building.

One example we have currently in construction is Merdeka118, which upon completion will become the second tallest skyscraper in the world.⁠⁠ Its incredibly complex infrastructure and mix of uses includes a shopping centre, commercial floorplates and luxury hotel accommodation, each atop one another.

JR: Where did you draw inspiration from for the building?

ND: The components of the building’s form are derived from their uses and are defined as such externally. Most visibly, the heritage shed is retained, restored and celebrated at the base of the tower with the next seven levels being hotel accommodation.

Above that, reading quite distinctly, we have the apartment levels with a highly articulated floorplan edge, which enables the façade glazing to reflect light in a way that is reminiscent of the movement of water.

JR: How did you collaborate with Carr Design to make sure the interiors of the apartments were in keeping with the rest of the building?

ND: The Carr team worked very carefully to design interiors that are both elegant and luxurious.

The overriding idea in the design the of the apartments was to maximise the view opportunities for residents. There is a rigour to the planning which is experienced as you move through the plan, creating a seamless experience. The apartments are also very generously sized with finely considered details and a warm, classic palette of materials.

JR: What part of the design are you most proud of/what are you most looking forward to seeing?

ND: We are eagerly looking forward to how the building will function, fostering a vibrant series of uses for residents, guests and visitors. We are proud of how it celebrates an important part of Melbourne’s heritage in its retention of the shed, and thus its distinctive reflection of uses as a former industrial site.

This also has us looking forward to seeing the building as a sculptural built form to the precinct along the river frontage and a marker for the wider precinct.

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Joel Robinson

Joel Robinson

Joel Robinson is a property journalist based in Sydney. Joel has been writing about the residential real estate market for the last five years, specializing in market trends and new developments across the country

Tags: 
Seafarers Docklands Riverlee Fender Katsalidis

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