Standing in the mansard roof, among a picturesque winter day looking out to the iconic Sydney skyline just off in the distance and the street below alive with afternoon dog-walkers and coffee runs, it is easy to get a sense of how, Ironbark, the last piece of the Harold Park Urban Renewal Project, will not only provide high-quality affordable housing in close proximity to the city, but also create a living experience that is deeply connected to a sense of community and lifestyle.
Representative of the clients’ ambition to provide affordable homes that curate and support communities, the development provides an opportunity for social interaction among residents, whilst echoing the design and spirit of the surrounding area. We had the distinct pleasure of designing and delivering this important community asset that will also remain part of the City West Housing portfolio under an Owner/Operator model; two concepts that joined together to provide an interesting design challenge, requiring a delicate balancing act of strategic thinking.
Comprised of 75 apartments at a mix of 1,2 and 3 bedrooms over 5 levels, every space in the development, both internal and external, assists in building this sense of community. Communal open space is provided in the form of multiple terraces at various levels of the development; the common lawn fronting Ross St, Level 3 rooftop garden and Level 4 landscape terrace. These community spaces are complete with the provision of play, gym and BBQ facilities radiating the sense of lifestyle synonymous with city living.
The project is the result of a Design Excellence Competition that sought a response to its context through scale, built form and materiality whilst also noting that “affordable” as a concept should only be reflected in rent charged, not in design outcomes. This is not only in support of CWH’s core belief of egalitarian accessibility to jobs, connectivity and access to amenities, but is also in support of the community it strives to create for its residents.
Ironbark provides a solution to an important issue in the Sydney market, being the lack of affordable housing in close proximity to jobs in Sydney’s city and fringe suburbs. The central premise is simple: you should be able to live in the area you work in. Additionally, there is not solely a lack of affordable housing, but also a lack of appropriate housing with many residents requiring a home that provides a level of security, safety and community for their families. Ironbark provides an opportunity for a balanced work and family life and more than shelter, it provides lifestyle.
Ironbark is owned and operated by City West Housing, the owner-operator model being one of increasing popularity here in Australia. This point of difference was critically important to the longevity of the development as a portfolio asset. This required a carefully balanced design-led approach, inclusive of robust, maintenance-conscious materiality choices. This combination of an Owner operated affordable development meant each choice needed to cleverly solve multiple requirements and work hard to yield high value for both the developer and the resident. Thoughtful design moves were key, for example: good cross ventilation throughout the development meant that it was designed to largely self-ventilate, thus reducing costs associated with heating and cooling. A choice that would not only impact the affordability of the development, but also to the operational costs to residents needing to cool their apartments. As a bonus this has allowed for the provision of spacious balconies distributing light and air throughout the apartments, increasing their liveability and desirability.
This level of quality was continued through to the design of the Interiors, best demonstrated through the exceptionally finished kitchens, exceeding the level of detail and quality of materiality traditionally offered to developments with affordability in mind. Design features such as under-cabinet lighting to light the benchtop and enhanced general lighting allows residents to move straight in with little additional expenditure required. Again, details that not only elevate the living experience but also contribute to the affordability of the residence.
Ironbark is the affordable housing offer within the broader Mirvac-developed Harold Park masterplan. As such, ensuring its residents felt integrated into the broader community was key. Scott Carver achieved this by providing a considered design solution which allows its residents to enjoy a quality of life commensurate to their neighbours.