Sydney eastern suburbs architects – Designing liveable spaces

Remodeling and Home Design

South Coogee multi-unit development

16 units over 3/4 levels
4 x 1 bed, 6 x 2bed, 3 x 2 bed + study, 2 x 3 bed and 1 x 4 bed units.
There are 3 adaptable units in total consisting of 3 x 2 bed + study units.
1 x semi basement car park level for 22 vehicles, 1 motor bike and 10 bicycles
149-155 Malabar Road, South Coogee
Status: approved

A response to the ‘Nine Design Quality Principles’.

This statement responds to the Nine Design Quality Principles as listed in the Design Quality of Residential Apartment Development SEPP 65 Provisions and detailed in the Apartment Design Guide (ADG).

Proposal description:

• The site area is 1463.08m2. The site dimensions are 28.015m (street frontage west) x 36.735m (rear east) x 50.290m (laneway north) x 45.720m (south). The site slopes down from Malabar Road (west) to the rear of the site (east) by almost 4m.
• The development consists of a part 3, part 4 storey brick and concrete building designed on two sides of a common access breezeway running east west.
• Cars enter a little below existing grade into the car park from the northern lane way. There is one main pedestrian entrance from Malabar Road. However, all ground floor units have direct entrances into their private open space. There is 1 western fire stair, 1 eastern escape stair and 1 lift to service the units and the semi basement level.
• The building is constructed of load bearing brick with concrete floor slabs over a concrete semi basement car park level. The major roof elements consist of two flat concrete roofs, the main roof also providing a roof terrace. The L2 eastern unit is set back from the two lower floors and the L3 penthouse level is setback still further.

01. Context and neighbourhood character

• The site at 149-155 Malabar Road South Coogee (zoned R3) is currently occupied by three buildings over 3 sites, all to be amalgamated as part of this proposal. The northern most property (No. 149-151 Malabar) is currently occupied by a part 2, part 3 storey brick apartment building containing 6 units over 2 floors with a semi basement car park. It has a simple hipped tiled roof. The two southern properties (No. 153 and 155) are occupied by a pair of semi detached brick dwellings, the former is single storied with a tiled pitched roof, the later is two storied with a brick parapet roof and a nil front setback, likely an old shop top arrangement.
• Immediately to the north of the subject site is a narrow lane way (to be widened in this proposal), followed by a series of double storied, rendered brick single dwellings facing Malabar Road. These dwellings are within the R2 Zone. Behind these facing the lane way are a series of backyards which feed off Napier Street. These too are in the R2 Zone.
• Immediately to the east and south of the subject site, the R3 zone continues in both directions with 2 and 3 storied, older styled brick apartment buildings with tiled roofs. Further to the south east in Garie Place, these apartment buildings become larger and taller.
• Under the R3 Zoning, the subject site is suitable for the type of mulit unit development proposed with regards to building size, density, proximity to public transport, shops, parks, beaches, schools and hospitals. It is seen as a transitional zone between the existing higher density multi flat buildings to the south east down to the lower density existing domestic houses to the north.
• The subject site is within a short walk to both city and inner city buses in Malabar Road, close to multiple recreational parks and beaches in Coogee, Maroubra and Bondi, nearby to retail areas such as East Gardens, Pacific Square and local shopping strips, and along transport routes to both public and private schools and hospitals in Randwick, Coogee and Maroubra. In short, the site has more than enough infrastructure to support the proposed density.
• The building fabric predominately consists of older style, red face brick single dwellings and apartment buildings, mainly with pitched, hipped tiled roofs. Some have been rendered and painted over time. From the street, most are 2 and 3 storeys in height, those houses on the high side of the street often with semi basement garages. It is this general building fabric to which this proposal has responded.

02. Built form and scale

• The building form from Ground to L2 has been designed either side of an east west common access breezeway. The northern section runs in a linear arrangement addressing the lane way and contains 4 units per level. The amended proposal is now setback further from the lane way up from 5.5m to 6m. The basement also is setback further up from 2.5/3.27 to 4m clear. Increased screen planting and privacy result and greater safety for vehicle egress/ingress. The southern section is much smaller. It contains only 1 unit per floor and is located to the south west corner of the site addressing Malabar Road. The amended penthouse level is now setback further (west – 6m to 8.5m, south – 5m to 7.1m and north – 5.5m to 6m) from the lower floors and located above the western section of the building. This level now contains 1 unit only and is less in area (151m2 down to 140m2. Positive results are an increased level of privacy to the street frontages and adjoining properties and less building bulk when viewed from the surrounding areas. The building form has been chosen for a number of reasons and is outlined below.
• The footprint primarily forms an “L” shape, with the long axis running east-west facing north and the short axis running north-south facing west. This optimises those units facing north and minimises those units facing east/west thus greatly improving light and solar access into the development.
• The “L” shape form, together with material and colour selection, also produces a horizontally expressed building which reduces verticality and thus the scale of the building edges.
• The bend of the “L” shape is easily split into two sections to create a clear main entrance from Malabar Road and a short breezeway. This passage continues to the east and opens up the back of the northern units to the south thus providing cross through and corner units at the building ends and junction points. This reduces the depth of all apartments, maximising both cross ventilation and natural light whilst also producing very efficient, internal planning arrangements.
• The height flexibility of the linear forms to step along their length also helps the building respond to the site geometry and regulates the scale of the development. The western length of the building can align with the front boundary to form a strong street alignment with Malabar Road and with a little more height. The northern length of the building is able to align with the lane way and reduce its height where the building envelope restriction is lower.
• By aligning the building in a linear form along the north and west boundaries, the south eastern corner of the site is able to open up as a green space, providing a central landscaped area not only benefiting the subject site but also all the surrounding sites. Being so large and adjacent to the reduced height of the northern leg of the building, this common open space also benefits from large periods of sunlight, even in mid winter. The stepping down of the building form along the north also improves this sun penetration into this green square.
• Modulation is also used in the vertical plane as level 2 (eastern end), and then again at level 3, are progressively setback from the lower levels. The building edges are further articulated by partly recessing the private open spaces into the building envelope and then again at the upper levels through the depth of the balconies.
• The broad overhang of the penthouse flat roof also provides shadowing effects into the building at the higher level and recesses the vertical facade from street view. Both design techniques moderate the building scale and add visual interest to the elevation.
• The architectural façade treatment also utilises material, colour and facade modulation to help minimise scale by breaking up areas of vertical flat walls.
• The natural slope of the site from the front to rear offers the opportunity to reduce the impact of car parking by fully burying the basement level along Malabar Road. This minimises bulk and scale along the building’s street address.
• Although the height of the development comes above the overall 12m building height limit as the site slopes towards the east, the building still stays within the height limit at the street edge and within the expected number of stories (3) anticipated by its R3 Zone.
• The proposed building envelope complies with the Randwick DCP prevailing (now 6m) front setback, the 4m side setbacks and a 6m “rear” setback when considered as a corner site.

03. Density

• The proposed development consists of 16 apartments, each with the associated 21 residential car spaces + 1 visitor. All are provided with the required amount of storage. This has been accommodated on the site with a complying FSR of 0.9:1, an apparent 12m complying building height when viewed at the street boundary (non complying only as the site slopes down), a complying landscaped area of now 53% (up from 51%) and a complying deep root planting of 15%/29% (ADG/DCP). Therefore, on a numerical basis, the proposed development results in compliance with the main requirements set down in the DCP and ADG to control density. The amended scheme, as shown above, now has a larger area of landscaped and deep root planting which results in an improved outdoor amenity, screen planting and rainwater run off for the proposed density.
• The unit mix is a balance of large to small sized apartments which reflects the anticipated demand in this location. There are 25% 1 x bed units, 38% 2 x bed units, 19% 2 bed + study units and 12% 3 bed units and 6% 4 bed units. Of these, 3 are adaptable (3 x 2 bed + study units).
• As indicated above, there is good access to infrastructure, public transport and community facilities to support the proposed development.

04. Sustainability

• As detailed above, the building form and site orientation ensures that, with the amended scheme, now an improved 81% of apartments achieve 2 hours of sun, most considerably more than the 70% required. No apartments will be without sun with the amended scheme now improving the levels of sun penetration to south western apartments 105 and 205.
• Since all apartments are arranged with at least two aspects and/or a breezeway, most if not all, will be naturally cross ventilated either via bedroom/bathroom windows or, in the case of single aspect apartments, via high level fire rated louvers above entrance doors and/or kitchen.
• All kitchens are less than 8m from a window and will have good access to views and natural ventilation.
• There will be good thermal mass provided by the masonry and concrete construction. Insulation will be provided above the basement car park.
• There is good control of northern sun with protruding balconies, eaves or awnings to the large glazed areas ensuring less build up of heat in summer but more sun penetration in winter. The building form will also naturally protect against low level sun during summer to the east and west. The depth of the building also conforms to the ADG requirements.
• The above passive solar design principles will ensure the building naturally regulates cooling and heating, reducing the need for mechanical systems.
• A common use rainwater tank is provided in the basement. The amended scheme now also allocates a 10kw solar panel array on the north east L2 flat roof, fans fitted to habitable areas and large sections of glass louvred windows to improve ventilation These additional measures featured in the revised scheme will improve the building’s sustainability credentials. See also the other water and energy efficiency measures provided in the BASIX Certificate.

05. Landscape

• A now larger landscaped area of 53% exceeds council’s requirement of 50%.
• A 15%/29% (ADG/DCP) defined deep soil zone exceeds requirement.
• A 25% of common open space achieves the ADG requirement of 25% and in addition, planting around the edges of the building also screens the entire building from adjacent properties, Malabar Road and the northern laneway. The revised scheme now has a much more generous width, and within a deep soil zone, to the northern laneway for improved screen planting and privacy to the aligned courtyards.
• The communal open space is accessible from the ground level via a short ramp and enjoys more than 3 hours of sun during the middle of the day. Almost the entire area is within the deep root zone, ensuring plenty of large planting opportunities.
• All apartments at ground level are provided with private open spaces, often exceeding the minimum 3m x 4m useable area and 25m2 open space requirement.
• All courtyard areas have been located off living areas and allow for excellent solar access.
• Greater detail regarding plant species is provided on the landscape drawing

06. Amenity

• Planning arrangements have created suitably sized open planned living areas and bedrooms, all complying with their functional requirements. Kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities are practical and efficient with a good number of bathrooms having access to a window.
• Units are efficiently planned without entrances requiring long corridors. In general, like functions are grouped together providing visual and acoustic separation between the more public, entry areas and the more private living areas.
• As discussed in more detail under “sustainability”, sunlight and natural ventilation will be accessible to all apartments and even more so in the amended scheme.
• All living area ceiling heights shall be 2700.
• Individual courtyards and landscaped common areas will provide suitably sized and located outdoor areas off living spaces for the enjoyment of occupants.
• The required storage has been met both inside and outside the units with larger storage components provided in the part basement car park. In some cases, the storage areas exceed ADG guidelines.
• Bin storage facilities are located inside the basement car park, protected from the weather, accessible to apartments and the street and visually discrete.
• Increased levels of perimeter planting included in the amended scheme will now further improve both building screening and privacy to the units.

07. Safety

• There will be good surveillance of the public entry thoroughfare from Malabar Road and the laneway from adjoining apartments and balconies. The entrance is also clearly visible from the street.
• There will be a security gate at the entrance from Malabar Road and at the rear between the driveway and the common open space.
• Lighting to the landscaped and entry areas shall help to provide greater surveillance to maintain security.
• The separating out of pedestrian and vehicle movement will also ensure safety of people through to their apartments and a clear and organised method of bringing visitors and owners through the site.
• Since the driveway and car park entry is at street level and the building is well set back from the street, there will be good sight lines for cars entering into and out of the car park. In particular, the revised scheme will increase the building setback generally, and further still from the car park entry, therefore further improving vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the laneway.

08. Housing diversity and social interaction

• As mentioned previously, the apartment type and size is in keeping with single to mid-sized family groups expected in the area. This ensures housing diversity. A complying number of adaptable units includes amenity for the aged and those with disabilities. This includes access to the principle communal open space, private open spaces and balconies.
• As discussed previously, the area is well resourced with transport, shopping centres, schools, recreational parks and beaches. Together with the amenities provided in the development, the development is suitable for the socio economic context of the area.
• The main breezeway encourages both casual and spontaneous social interactions, including the now larger, entrance seating area of the revised scheme, particularly at the beginning and end of the day. Planned and longer recreational time is available for social interaction in the large principle communal open space, particularly in the middle of the day when the sun is out.

09. Aesthetics

• For the most part, the aesthetics of this proposal responds to the practical considerations that have helped shape the building. More specifically, they are:
• Clear, face brick wall lines delineating the street and lane way edges. The selection of face brick also reflects the current face brick character of the older style residences in the street, more likely to stay as the subject site’s R3 zone transitions down to a domestic R2 zone. We note the revised scheme now reduces the amount of red brick and limits its use to the 1st and 2nd floors. This helps to further define base, body and top floors in a now more linear arrangement. Accordingly, vertical bulk and scale is reduced.
• There are 3 brick tones, a light brick for the “core” and recessed brick areas, a mid tone red brick for the expressed building frame organising the balconies and entrance and finally, a dark tone grey brick which anchors the perimeter fences and above ground car park.
• The white brick has a secondary role to setback the faces of the recessed balconies within the mid toned outer frame and also to lower the tone of the upper levels to help reduce bulk and scale.
• The upper roof level spans out to form large overhangs over the balconies to create a darker play of shadows to emphasis the building recesses and reduce the verticality of the building.
• Building elements are also simplified to create a sense of uniformity and so not to appear too visually busy and overbearing.
• The basement will be mostly screened by planting areas close to the building and clad with a dark brick to contrast with the leafy green planting. This darker colour will also anchor the base of the building.
• There is a strong modulation of the facades using protruding and recessed elements as a means of defining and ordering the building. This works by providing a visual expression and variety across all apartments and by also emphasising certain focal points, such as entries and balconies, as needed.
• The building form creates a simple “L” shaped building with an open junction to herald the entrance and to establish the east west breezeway. Using clean, uncluttered edges, a white face brick “central core” will form the backdrop to the outer elements of different colour and modulation.