Urban Melbourne tours The Quays

Urban Melbourne this week had the good fortune of being invited to peruse The Quays, Docklands latest, largest and greatest apartment development.  Situated at the north eastern point of MAB Corporation's Newquay precinct, with high exposure to both Harbour Esplanade and Docklands Drive, the locale lent itself to an extraordinary design and that's precisely what project architects McBride Charles Ryan (MCR) delivered.

Externally the towers are dominated by blue, pink and purple glaze, something head contractor Brookfield Multiplex grappled with as local technology restraints required elements of the facade be imported from overseas due to its complexity.  This facade is punctuated by incredible crumpled precast balconies, yet the true worth of the exterior design lies within the public domain.  At ground level there is visual relief in the form of  varying materials, textures and colours employed, where a passerby isn't confronted by frontages comprising of a single material. 

Whether it be Euroa glazed clay bricks, mosaic tiles in a variety of colours, timber louvres, stainless steel or a multitude of other materials, pedestrian interest is piqued through the intricate nature of the ground and podium levels.  The Quays oozes class and suggests an uncompromising stance taken by MAB in delivering a high quality outcome true to MCR's vision.

Soon to appear will be a Callum Morton installation entitled "Monument Park" at Conder Plaza.  Working in unison with MCR and MAB, the park aims to create an experience which ties residential towers The Conder, The Quays and The Boyd together.  Further a  beach ball installation has yet to arrive; three storeys high and wedged between Harbour One and The Quays podium, the beach ball will undoubtedly be a visual strongpoint.

Three separate communal zones have been included within the complex.  Spanning 2260 m² and costing $10 million, the communal spaces are available for all residents to use.  According to MAB, "The facilities are designed to supplement private homes with good quality public space." In describing the areas as communal spaces, MCR endeavoured to provide as many nooks for people to meet and sit within, thereby striking a balance between community and privacy.

The residents lounge is a particularly stunning space which involves a kitchen and dining area, poker room, boardroom and business centre, library, quiet work areas, daily amenities and a cinema room as seen below.  Reinforcing the sense of a shared community is the external space atop the podium.  Featuring a garden retreat and sporting facilities, the space is designed to be used in a variety of functions simultaneously.

Holding 617 apartments in total, The Quays general floor plate is that of a jigsaw puzzle with a distinct lack of perpendicular walls evident.  After a near two year build residents will be free to move in during November with all apartments holding expansive views while 30% will hold harbour views that cannot be built out.

Apartments average 62 m² in size with the average price topping $580,000 within the 6 star energy rated complex.  Expecting no less of MCR, four distinct, vivid apartment colour schemes were offered while a fifth was employed for the Sebel premier apartment hotel component. Initially causing consternation within MAB, the vivd colour schemes employing a pearl and coral theme were received well by buyers although a more subtle scheme was available for less adventurous buyers.  Incidentally for those readers half tempted to secure an apartment within the $300+ million dollar development, all apartments bar one have been sold.  At 60 m² the generously sized single bedroom residence won't be available for long.

A key feature of the development is the public thoroughfare bisecting the ground level. Debbie Ryan of MCR states "We were keen to create a bond between private and public space at The Quays and it's the first building we have built with a public thoroughfare which makes getting in and around the area easier."  MCR and MAB wanted to add to Melbourne's laneway network by introducing a thoroughfare and associated atrium through the site, yet with a sense of place.

This sense of place is reinforced with a water theme present throughout the thoroughfare, giving the complex a localised context in what can be considered somewhat of a transient space. The water wall seen below is a nod to the National Gallery of Victoria's water wall; it provides privacy to the swimming area behind while providing a kinetic and tactile quality to the atrium space so much so it's fair to say the image below had the author somewhat perplexed for a period of time.

Various programs spill into the thoroughfare or have some level of interface with it, be it the three retails spaces, Sebel reception, communal facilities or elevated apartment passageways. The sheer size, quality and detail of The Quays and its atrium is exceptional, with the crowning piece an installation by artist Nike Savvas featuring suspended iridescent glass balls.  "The result is colourful, lively and activated, providing delight to the pedestrian realm" according to Debbie Ryan; a well considered development all parties involved can be immensely proud of!

And what does the future hold for Newquay in general?  After chatting with MAB residential general manager David Allt-Graham, sales for the precincts next project, Newquay Promenade remain steady with a likely public launch for the second Bronze tower expected during February 2014.  Ideally construction of both Silver and Bronze towers that constitute Newquay Promenade will occur simultaneously.

As for the future McBride Charles Ryan-designed tower destined for what was Waterfront City, work continues to deliver the landmark complex. First seen on Urban Melbourne, the sloping semicircle tower may well include a residential component allowing the lucky few to eventually own a piece of what just may become Melbourne's ultimate address.  Elsewhere within the precinct Mr Allt-Graham expressed MAB's desire to include an office tower on what is now Newquay's last vacant lot fronting Docklands Drive, given 387-395 Docklands Drive is subject to this residentail scheme by dKO Architecture.

As for The Quays, the project is best summed by the words of resident designer and graphics guru Laurence Dragomir, "They just got it right!" Indeed they did; we only hope more developers and architects follow suit.


With Laurence Dragomir

Click the images below to view Urban Melbourne's tour of The Quays, Docklands.

The Sebel serviced apartments open for business
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