BE­SPOKE HI-RISE

The lux­ury apart­ment mar­ket is boom­ing, with buy­ers and own­ers de­mand­ing only the best when it comes to de­sign and fit-out

The Weekend Australian - Life - - PROPERTY - MICHELLE SINGER

As the pop­u­lar­ity of pres­tige ur­ban apart­ments grows, so does de­mand from wealthy own­ers for a be­spoke home of­fer­ing much more than a pared-back colour scheme and com­fort­able scat­ter cush­ions. Lux­ury-apart­ment own­ers want to cus­tomise their homes with fire­places, steam show­ers and lux­u­ri­ous baths as well as cus­tom fur­ni­ture, ac­cord­ing to Mel­bourne-based Mim De­sign direc­tor Miriam Fan­ning.

Max­imis­ing as­pects and us­ing space are among the key re­quire­ments of wealthy apart­ment own­ers, along with cus­tom fur­ni­ture such as cof­fee tables, side tables, mir­rors and pen­dant lights, she says.

“We’re see­ing a change driven by own­ers of pent­house apart­ments and de­vel­op­ers of multi-res­i­den­tial projects want­ing the highest pos­si­ble level of de­tail and the same at­ten­tion you would give an in­di­vid­ual house,” Fan­ning says.

“We are hav­ing a grow­ing num­ber of clients seek­ing com­pletely unique pent­house de­signs that give the home a be­spoke feel. Clients want the best of the best from Sub-Zero, Wolf or Gagge­nau ap­pli­ances to en­tire rooms ded­i­cated to their wardrobe.

“It comes down to plan­ning, look­ing at the foot­print and re­align­ing the spa­ces to en­sure size, as­pect and views are be­fit­ting of such a space. It’s about cre­at­ing an apart­ment that cap­tures that feel­ing of seren­ity so that when the owner walks in it makes them feel great but they’re not able to put their fin­ger on just one thing.”

Pent­house own­ers hap­pily push the bound­aries as they seek a lifestyle they’ve been ac­cus­tomed to in a more tra­di­tional fam­ily home, as lux­ury apart­ments be­come more ac­cepted and read­ily avail­able.

Prop­erty de­vel­oper CostaFox direc­tor Michael Fox, who is launch­ing a four-level pre­mium project on a 1189sq m site in Syd­ney’s beach­side Manly, says there’s al­ready sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est in the six lux­ury apart- ments, priced be­tween $7 mil­lion and $8m. De­signed by award-win­ning Ja­panese ar­chi­tect Koichi Takada with in­te­ri­ors by Mim De­sign, the apart­ments range from 150sq m to al­most 300sq m and are part of what Fox de­scribes as an emerg­ing mar­ket where there is plenty of scope and de­mand for such homes.

“I’m an apart­ment dweller by choice and that’s what I cre­ate,” the fa­ther of three says. “Liv­ing, eat­ing and breath­ing the apart­ment lifestyle al­lows you to cre­ate some­thing won­der­ful in the mar­ket­place. I’ve come across a lot of high-net-worth in­di­vid­u­als who haven’t con­sid­ered the apart­ment lifestyle that much, but when they look around there isn’t much choice for them.”

The Koichi Takada Ar­chi­tects and Mim De­sign brief was to cre­ate “some­thing spe­cial and unique” tak­ing ad­van­tage of the views and com­bin­ing them with high-end fin­ishes to a level not cur­rently on of­fer.

With prices reach­ing $30,000 a square me­tre, Fox says a high-end cus­tomised fin­ish is the new norm.

“If you want to at­tract the right peo­ple with big money that’s the level you have to go to,” Fox says.

“They want some­thing stylish and cus­tomised with au­then­tic fin­ishes, top-qual­ity stone, ap­pli­ances, great lo­ca­tion and a min­i­mum of two car spa­ces. You see so many cookie-cut­ter apart­ments no one is re­ally fo­cused on the high end.”

Ar­chi­tect Ker­stin Thomp­son says one of the great­est changes she has seen in client work is more of an aware­ness of de­sign, ma­te­ri­als and ap­pli­ances, usu­ally gleaned through the in­ter­net, me­dia and their so­cial net­works.

Ker­stin Thomp­son Ar­chi­tects re­cently com­pleted a strik­ing Flin­ders Lane Apart­ment in Mel­bourne’s CBD, de­signed around the client’s love of books, re­sult­ing in the project be­ing short­listed in the res­i­den­tial cat­e­gory for the 2016 houses awards.

The 1920s apart­ment is or­gan­ised around a series of

‘Liv­ing, eat­ing and breath­ing the apart­ment lifestyle al­lows you to cre­ate some­thing won­der­ful’ MICHAEL FOX

book­shelves that form a cen­tral core — the li­brary — defin­ing the spa­tial bound­aries of the rest of the apart­ment and its ar­range­ment of bed­rooms, kitchen and liv­ing around the perime­ter.

A pal­ette of per­fo­rated steel works within the in­dus­trial-era shell to cre­ate a dark heart with a light perime­ter.

Thomp­son says clients of­ten have a beach or coun­try home and want to cre­ate an ur­ban get­away or sanc­tu­ary within their apart­ment or pent­house.

“There are many sim­i­lar­i­ties when de­sign­ing a home and an apart­ment. You still have to fac­tor in ori­en­ta­tion, ad­ja­cen­cies and amenity,” she says.

“The dif­fer­ence of­ten lies in con­nect­ing the de­sign to its sur­rounds and cre­at­ing a flow be­tween the two. In the coun­try­side or by the beach, the con­nec­tion is to land­scape. In ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments, de­signs in­stead ref­er­ence other built forms.

“For the Flin­ders Lane apart­ment it was ref­er­enc­ing the his­tory of the build­ing en­ve­lope, its her­itage and the ex­ist­ing pal­ette of ma­te­ri­als (such as large steel­frame win­dows and hand­some pro­por­tions).”

Ul­tra Prop­er­ties direc­tor Kevin Car­lin, whose high­end south­east Queens­land list­ings in­clude a dou­ble apart­ment in the Ri­par­ian build­ing in Ea­gle Street, Bris­bane, says buy­ers with $5m or more to spend ex- pect all the bells and whis­tles in their pent­house, as they would of a lux­ury car.

“Buy­ers now want to see all the ex­tra fea­tures where ev­ery­thing is au­to­mated and lux­u­ri­ous,” he says.

“I’m see­ing fit-outs where there are con­cealed rooms and per­son­alised lifts. A lot of them are be­ing built on spec by the de­vel­op­ers and they’re be­ing taken to the next level.”

From a sales per­spec­tive, Ray White Surfers Par­adise prin­ci­pal An­drew Bell says pent­house own­ers rarely cus­tomise their prop­er­ties to sell them.

Hav­ing re­cently been shown through a com­pletely cus­tomised pent­house with “spec­tac­u­lar cab­i­netry” and ad­di­tional win­dows to cre­ate what he de­scribed as “the best apart­ment” he’d seen, Bell says re­design­ing an ex­ist­ing pent­house is a costly, time-con­sum­ing and ar­du­ous process.

“From a sales per­spec­tive cus­tomis­ing a pent­house means you’ve got a far more im­pres­sive apart­ment to of­fer but peo­ple don’t do this with a view to sell­ing, this is about cre­at­ing a space for them to en­joy,” he says.

“What it does do is bring a high-qual­ity range of apart­ments into a mar­ket­place such as ours, where buy­ers ex­pect it. It en­hances our rep­u­ta­tion to of­fer such stun­ning apart­ments, but it’s more about a per­sonal de­sire to cre­ate some­thing sen­sa­tional.”

Miriam Fan­ning, from Mim De­sign, main pic­ture; top and above, a 1920s ware­house apart­ment in Flin­ders Lane, Mel­bourne, re­designed by ar­chi­tect Ker­stin Thomp­son

STU­ART McEVOY

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