Whilst mixed-use developments are not new as a concept, there are innovations in their resurgence that can be attributed to our evolving life and workstyles. More than ever, we are approaching the components that make up our day in a way that blurs the lines between our home and work lives and that craves a sense of community and social well-being. With traditional work models being challenged, particularly in 2020; and more choice being made available in how we structure our lives, the convenience of amalgamating the spaces we move through is becoming increasingly appealing.
Mixed Use developments are not only able to facilitate these changes to work and living, but also bring together entertainment, hospitality and retail in a way that is both convenient and compelling.
Loneliness, partly social isolation and partly our own interpretation of our lives, is a public health problem in our cities, no more evident than in today’s climate of social distancing demands. Mixed-use developments at their most successful, create communities and can provide a greater connection to place compared to single use builds. The provision of public space and places to naturally bump into in one another, or interact whilst shopping, dining and walking remedies this sense of disconnection.
Conversely, a successful mixed-use development is not without its challenges. To truly provide the value it promises, each element across the development must be strong enough to stand up individually in conjunction with providing value across the whole site. In the case of our Rozelle Laneways project, this was exacerbated by inserting a mixed-use development into a suburb with a strong community thread and one that felt connected to the existing urban landscape. Key to the brief was reimagining the site into a dynamic mixed-use precinct that could connect to the existing retail and commercial offerings on the adjacent streets and laneways and provide a heart for the Rozelle community.
The former Balmain Leagues Club site at Rozelle has had a long history that has left one of Sydney’s most iconic sites in desperate need of revitalisation. Many previous design solutions had been proposed and subsequently rejected through the planning approval process. In acquiring the site, our client Heworth engaged a new consultant team alongside Scott Carver to develop a scheme that addressed the objections and ultimately breathed new life into the site.
Our process began with critically reviewing the previously submitted DA’s and gaining an understanding of why their applications failed. What we discovered was that there were important aspects relating to the heritage components, to preserving the essence of the suburb and a disconnection of the public domain from the surrounding streets that were particularly concerning. In response to this, we worked in close consultation with the client, the planners (Mecone) , stakeholders and peer reviewers to create a solution that addressed these key issues and provided a compelling new proposition for the site.
We harnessed our integrated approach to projects through a collaboration of Architecture, Landscape and Interiors and combined this with our cross-market expertise to find individual solutions that would contribute to the overall success of the project. This approach was underpinned by our Urban Design & Masterplanning experience allowing us to then step away from this focussed lens and inspect how these components conversed to create a cohesive dialogue of spaces that could seamlessly integrate into the community.
“Our proposal has been generated from a clear site strategy which deﬁnes two distinct worlds, the public place; for the whole inner west community which is separated by level from private spaces; for the amenity of the apartment residents. The public offer is generated from the outside, with street treatments to enhance the presence of the site in its surrounding neighbourhood. This new public place is designed to complement the existing network of spaces. It aims to create a complimentary offer for the community with elements of its character drawn from those which make the existing area of Balmain and Rozelle uniquely special places in Sydney.” – Doug Southwell, Director Architecture, Scott Carver.
At the centre of this public place, acting as the community heart is the Plaza; providing a daily place to meet, dine and play with the flexibility to host larger community events and, is anchored by the new Balmain Club. The club is the centrepiece of Rozelle Laneways and is representative of the community spirit that has carried on its legacy throughout its long history. It is truly a place for the community, a celebration of contemporary Club offers; and provides an aesthetic continuity of the renewed urban landscape by bringing the outside in.
Situated above the plaza and capturing extensive views from the CBD to the east; and Parramatta to the west is the residential apartment village. Residents within have access to a range of communal open space creating a rich tapestry of landscape offers; that provide a variety of choice between active and passive spaces, communal and more intimate spaces.
Born from a strong desire of both Heworth and the Inner West Council to create a highly sustainable development, the design has a particular focus on enhancing the extent of landscape planting across the site. Initiatives include extensive rooftop landscaping and green roofs, facade greening and tree canopy cover.
“To enhance the development’s ecological value the design preferences endemic plant species and creates habitat niches such as insect hotels to bring native wildlife back to the urban environment. The benefit of this biophilic design approach will be to the health and wellbeing of residents and the public through improved air quality, reduction in urban heat island effect, increased environmental comfort and ecological value.” Esther Dickins, Director Landscape, Scott Carver
Directly beneath the residential component, boasting views into the plaza below sit the co-working facilities forming the creative commercial campus and providing a true live-work experience. This is complimented with a series of live-work dwellings to Waterloo Street, of a scale that speaks to the adjoining residential streets.
Connecting these components and bolstering the community linkages is a network of thematic laneways connecting surrounding streets and existing shops on Darling Street. These connections to the surrounding streets provide a permeability to the site, moments of social interaction and enhanced opportunities for residents and the community to interact. Their language draws on the heritage streetscape and precinct to define a series of identities. The food & beverage precinct offers a variety of outlets around the plaza and within the laneways, supplemented by the below grade supermarket. Connection to Darling Street encourages interaction between the new retail and the existing high street offer of Darling Street.
The Rozelle Laneways project brings together living, working, entertainment, hospitality and retail, with a particular focus on how new public spaces and landscaping can activate and enrich a once derelict site.. As a new Mixed Use development within a well established and historical context, Rozelle Laneways will support and create connections to the existing retailers; whilst ensuring the residents, workers and patrons within, feel connected to the broader Rozelle community.