Architecture practice Rothelowman has capped an impressive year by scooping a number of prestigious awards recently. Earlier this month the firm was announced as Consultancy of the Year by UDIA Victoria, in addition to collecting the UDIA Awards for Excellence in both Victoria and Queensland.
The Victorian acknowledgement covers a commendation for Medium Density Development via their Lex Apartments design in South Yarra, as well the Award for Excellence in the Urban Renewal category for the adaptive reuse of Tip Top Brunswick. Regular readers will be aware of Urban Melbourne's coverage of the Tip Top development, both from a urban perspective and also as an onsite guest of Little Projects Managing Director Michael Fox.
With 2014 the most successful year of Rothelowman's 23-year history in which the firm on average was commissioned to commence a new project every second day, Rothelowman have built upon their success by recently opening a Sydney office. Urban Melbourne spoke with the new Principal of Rothelowman's NSW/ACT branch, Ben Pomroy recently in order to explore what lies ahead for the harbour city and Rothelowman.
Having worked in an architectural practice elsewhere in Sydney Ben Pomroy joined Rothelowman seven months ago with the Melbourne-based firm already enjoying a quasi-Sydney presence by way of a well earned reputation with national clients. It's this national understanding mixed with firsthand knowledge of Sydney's planning and design landscape that Ben believes will propel the Sydney practice forward rapidly.
Questioned on the state of the Sydney residential market Ben suggests that Sydney has been somewhat sluggish in recent years, although 2015 will bring the harbour city back into line with both Melbourne and Brisbane which are both enjoying buoyant markets. B-Point Tower seen below is the maiden Sydney project and features a 22 storey residential apartment building with 146 apartments plus 7,900sqm of Gross Floor Area.
Through innovative design and spatial planning, Rothelowman have created a contemporary and sophisticated building that sits in direct contrast to its older style high rise neighbours. A true mixed use building, the blend of residents across all age groups, and a highly active ground plane provides a look at the future for Burwood CBD.
In a new and evolving context of taller buildings in Sydney, Rothelowmn have designed an iconic tower for Burwood Town Centre. The articulated and active retail podium sits directly adjacent the main train station. The podium responds to the immediate lower scale context, with the tower setback above street level to respond better to the district scale and access expansive views to the Sydney CBD.B-Point Tower, rothelowman.com.au
The Burwood project in Sydney's inner-west leads a string of projects, predominantly low-rise and mixed-use buildings currently on the drawing board, with Ben Pomroy not venturing forward with a target number of projects/apartments delivered per annum, but pointing out that Sydney has suffered eight years of dwelling supply shortfall relative to demand. Prosperity for both Sydney and Rothelowman appear certain in a rebounding market.
Local knowledge also plays a part with the design dynamic naturally differing between cities. Restrictive New South Wales planning controls plays its part as Ben points toward existing laws which were/are very much catered toward multi-unit developments rather than high-rise apartment living. This in turn leads to implications for apartment sizes and configurations, in that they are restrictive in nature. Ben Pomroy does state that changes to planning controls are in motion which would realign New South Wales planning controls for high density living more closely to that of Victoria's; in effect Sydney is "Waking up" to high-rise amenity.
While the ACT operations are also controlled via the Darlinghurst office, Ben Pomroy sees the geographically small yet high quality market yielding results owing to the large number of firms and government departments with national interests present in Canberra. Then again Ben Pomroy explains that travelling to the ACT and regional New South Wales is part and parcel of the job - a task he's only too willing to undertake.