From the Architect’s Studio to the Waterfront
Stephen Crafti, leading architecture and design writer, speaks with architecture firm Woods Bagot about bringing Aqui Promenade from design to reality.
Aqui Promenade, designed by Woods Bagot, is the newest residential development to join the waterfront in NewQuay. Recently completed and with residents now moving in, the development comprises two towers – one rising 18 levels, the other 22 – which form an architectural spiral at the end of the promenade. “We were initially presented with a master plan, but we thought we could achieve a better outcome,” says architect Peter Miglis, Design Principal for Woods Bagot, who worked closely with architect Kate Frear, Client Principal, and interior designer Sarah Alessi, Lead Interior Design, for the lifestyle section of the practice. “We literally ‘rotated’ the two towers to increase privacy as well as expand on the water views,” adds Miglis.
One of the curtain-walled glass towers is clad in silver glass, while the other features bronze glass. Both towers are faceted at the lower levels, capturing the ripples of the water nearby. “The design is reminiscent of crystal that’s been polished,” says Miglis, who was pleased that Woods Bagot’s initial concept, the result of a design competition, was virtually unaltered by MAB. The spiral crown of both towers not only creates a sculptural effect, but also allows for a number of terraced roof gardens for the penthouse apartments. Loft-style apartments on the lower level, facing Doepel Way, have proved popular, as have other features in the towers, such as placing the lift cores closer to the edge to allow for increased light and water views.
As will be the case with NewQuay’s forthcoming Elm & Stone development (by DKO Architects), at Aqui Promenade, Woods Bagot provided communal facilities at ground level, including a library, gymnasium and swimming pool for residents, all accessed via a public laneway. The laneway is boldly marked by the neon emblazoned public artwork, Untitled 2016, by Melbourne artist Reko Rennie. Woods Bagot used the same textured glass treatment that features on the towers and applied it to the undercroft of this public thoroughfare. “MAB could have cut back in this treatment but were keen to retain the design integrity,” says Miglis. “MAB has a strong reputation in investing in quality rather than what’s often termed as ‘value managing’, where ideas are stripped back,” he adds.
Miglis attributes this ability to deliver a scheme as it was originally designed to the development’s initial planning phase. “Marketing suites include kitchens and bathrooms, which takes out the guess work when buyers come forward,” says Miglis. “The specifications are highly detailed and every element goes through a rigorous design process,” he says.
While some architectural practices simply hand over a design to a marketing department, Woods Bagot get involved in a number of stages of marketing, including working closely with MAB’s marketing and graphic design team. “We review all the renders for brochures and other channels, and are extremely mindful of which image conveys the finished product,” says Alessi. Miglis and Alessi also hosted a number of information nights within the display suites to answer questions from prospective buyers. “It’s important to deliver on what’s promised and not compromise the design,” says Miglis, whose approach sits comfortably with MAB’s philosophy.