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Icon Developments' Ashley Murdoch discusses Otter Street

Developed through a partnership with Icon Developments and Cranecorp Otter St will - upon completion - deliver a boutique residential development of 19 luxury residences in the heart of Collingwood’s eclectic and progressive Smith Street precinct at 1-3 Otter Street Collingwood. 

Every apartment benefits from dual aspect, access to significant natural light and cross ventilation all within walking distance of public transport, open space, cafes, restaurants, bars and galleries.

According to architects HASSELL, the development has been designed to be "unmistakably Collingwood with a distinctive twist" by taking the contextual material of bricks and rethinking them with the lower façade employs a shimmering glazed brick to create a strikingly beautiful impact on the streetscape.

Otter St draws on its neighbourhood context. Image: HASSELL

Being a boutique development, Icon Developments’ Managing Director Ashley Murdoch said the project was about exclusivity and spaciousness – something not often associated with apartment living. Otter St’s design has been inspired by its inner-urban location – another major draw-card to the development. 

We’ve brought together the best minds in the business to create spacious, A-grade residences. Every element across the board, from the understated exterior to the quality craftsmanship in the finishes and appliances have been considered.

Our buyers want the best of the best, so we engaged HASSELL for their architectural expertise, and combined this with fixtures and appliances at the pinnacle of their industries, such as Valcucine, Lema and Fantini, through a partnership with Rogerseller.

Collingwood has a great, longstanding industrial and creative history, but is now establishing itself as a home to the finer things in life with cafes, galleries and restaurants.The design is unmistakably Collingwood with a distinctive twist, with the lower façade using a shimmering glazed brick to create a strikingly beautiful impact on the streetscape.

- Ashley Murdoch, Icon Developments Managing Director

The living spaces offer expansive views. Image: Supplied

Urban Melbourne spoke to  Icon Developments’ Managing Director Ashley Murdoch about their collaboration on Otter St with Cranecorp and the companies future aspirations.

Urban Melbourne: Can you give us a bit of background about Icon Developments? What is your ethos when it comes to development? What sort of projects are Icon interested in delivering?

Ashley Murdoch: We formed Icon Developments about 20 years ago, specialising in residential warehouse conversions, with our first major development site in Richmond. At that time warehouse conversions weren’t as commonplace as they are now, so they had some architectural interest to them because they were different to everything else on the market.

This need to find something different informed our business ethos and we continue to be driven by a desire to do interesting projects that are more challenging from an architectural and planning point of view. Right now we’re focussing on apartments that are better for living, with well thought-out plans, smart spending and considered architecture, which is how we became involved with Otter St.

UM: How did the partnership for Otter St between Icon developments and Cranecorp come about? How was the relationship working together?

AM: We had been orbiting around each other for a number of years and working on similar projects, but never together. For Otter St, they were looking for a like-minded and experienced company to partner with who shared their design instincts. It was a great block of land, with lots of natural light and ventilation. We were struck by how they wanted to elevate the building materials and incorporate architectural elements with a nod to the area’s history to make it blend in with the existing buildings and still stand out from a design perspective.

Since we had similar ideas about what would work for the site and saw great potential in their architecture and design plans, we knew this was a project we wanted to be involved in. Otter St was an opportunity for us to act as a guiding hand on a unique and luxurious project in an evolving area, and it really ticked all the boxes for us in terms of finding interesting projects to work on.

For any partnership to be successful you need to bring complimentary skills to the table. Cranecorp are younger, proactive and design-oriented, while we bring the practical side of design to ensure we can deliver all the features we want in an efficient manner. This made our partnership very natural and effective, which definitely helped the project to grow in a really positive way.

UM: What factors or qualities appeal to Icon when scouring for development sites?

AM: There are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration when looking for a development site – orientation, street frontage and block dimensions are all hugely important. In recent years we’ve found that people want proximity to the action, but not to necessarily have it right on their doorstep. That’s why conveniently located developments in side streets are becoming so popular. You’re a quick walk from desirable amenities – such as public transport, supermarkets and restaurants – but with enough distance to keep you away from the noise and traffic. Otter St is a prime example of this.

However, we find that the most important aspect of any development is being able to envision the end product and to identify who the buyers are for that particular project. You need to take the location, demographics and style of your potential buyers into account, whether you’re developing small boutique apartments in a ‘hipster’ area or a larger-scale commercial development. You need to know who your buyers will be and source your site according to their needs.

UM: Icon have also partnered on 122 Roseneath Street with Wulff Projects and Assemble. Are strategic partnerships such as this preferred or is Icon happy to go it alone where applicable?

AM: At Icon, we can really go either way. Personally, I like partnering with other companies because I enjoy working with different people, seeing how different groups come up with ideas and how they get stuff done. Put simply, it allows us the opportunity to work on more interesting projects that we otherwise might not have been involved with. For me, it’s really important to develop a reputation of being a good partner who people want to approach with new ideas. With that said, when we find a project ourselves we won’t necessarily go hunting for partners to bring on unless we feel it will add value to the end product.

UM: What are Icon's plans moving forward, in terms of future site acquisitions, partnerships and projects?

AM: Our main area of focus is creating better quality projects that allows us to deliver something truly well-considered, whether that is a project for downsizers or the owner-occupier market. A long-term rental model is something we’d be interested in looking at in the future, especially because most people can’t afford to buy a home right now and are resigned to having to move every couple of years.

We’re definitely interested in the affordable housing area - it is such a difficult and multifaceted problem to solve - but as a builder-developer, with a strong balance sheet and an interest in design we sit in a unique position to try to solve these issues in the future.

3 comments

Bilby's picture

I like this project overall, but what happened to the articulated "gabled" roof form shown in the original renders for this project? The original design provided a significantly more interesting and dynamic urban form.
Was this just a cost control measure, or something else?


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Andrew's picture

Hi Bilby - The articulated “gabled” roof was deleted at the insistence of Council due to concerns about height.

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George D's picture

Yarra tend to be pretty aggressive about height.

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