Prolific Rhodes developer Billbergia has pitched plans for its 14th building in the high-rise haven, which is slated to be its most sustainable.
The 37-storey “vertical forest” tower at 9-13 Blaxland Street comprise 244 apartments on the 680sq m building footprint and provide through connections via a “green ground plane”, according to architects GroupGSA.
It will also include a fully suspended mature two-storey ficus tree, designed by innovative Singaporean landscape designers Salad Dressing, and a significant green spine through the building.
A four-storey commercial building will make way for the tower, which will sit atop a mixed-use podium and nine basement levels of parking.
Billbergia development director of planning and design Saul Moran said the project’s design aligned with the developer’s “philosophy of delivering high-quality transport-oriented housing supported by infrastructure and community amenity”.
“Billbergia has been part of the Rhodes community for more than 15 years, delivering major developments such as the national award-winning Rhodes Central project and Village Quays on the western side of Rhodes station,” he said.
The project will comprise vertical biophilic design across the tower with 428sq m of communal open space and 1537sq m of landscaped area, targeting a 4.7 Star NaTHERS rating, the most sustainable new apartments on the peninsula.
Level 20 will feature a dining and alfresco area while the rooftop will be crowned with a tree canopy and infinity pool.
Group GSA design lead Lisa-Maree Carrigan says the “vertical forest’ will soften the facade, and provide acoustic and urban heat mitigation.
She said the elevated design, which was conceptualised with Salad Dressing, was an architectural expression to “rewild the sky”.
“The integration of the landscape into the architecture takes inspiration from the site’s rich natural history and surrounding mangrove and wetland ecosystems to create a ‘biodiversity highway’ through generous vertical greenery and sky gardens, which rise above the tower,” Carrigan says.
▲ Billbergia’s focus on biophilic design and strong ESG values has been woven into the building’s fabric. Picture: Billbergia
The plans have been filed hot on the heels of the rezoning of Rhodes East precinct, aimed at increasing density in the area, but Billbergia’s development director Rick Graf says it needs fine-tuning in order to realise that ambition.
“We’ve been in Rhodes for 15 years and we will be in Rhodes for another 15 years. Blaxland is our first project on the east side (of Rhodes). We own most of the east side, unfortunately most of the land won’t be developed and will remain detached housing,” Graf says.
“If you want to amalgamate 10 sites to make a 5000sq m block, it’s just not feasible. For any decent sized block you’re paying more than $20 million.
“We do own most of Rhodes East and we would like to build another couple of thousand homes, but it’s not going to happen in the short term (with height and floor space ratio constraints).
“We’ll keep the faith and hope for a better understanding of the economics of development.”
▲ A rooftop canopy and infinity pool will crown the tower, the developer’s first on the east side of the peninsula. Picture: Billbergia
Graf says there is no denying how tough the market remains, but that the integrated builder developer is weathering the headwinds with a strong repeat customer base.
The Blaxland development is close to transport with the nearby Rhodes Station, which is in line with the developer’s remit of targeting sites for transit-oriented development.
Billbergia is currently delivering a $70-million community recreation centre and childcare centre in a planning agreement with the City of Canada Bay Council, which is due to open in 2025.
There are two other projects under way on the west side of Rhodes, and the developer just completed work on its North Sydney’s tallest commercial tower at 88 Walker Street.
Billbergia has also been working in partnership with the NSW House and Land Corporation on a $1.5-billion social, affordable and market-rate housing portfolio across Lidcombe, West Ryde and Arncliffe that would deliver more than 1300 apartments.
Graf says the project has already gone through the design excellence process and he says they have been working with the council and community to get the project right. He says they are hopeful to move on the project by the end of next year subject to approval by the City of Canada Bay Council and pre-sales.