Build to rent company, Assemble Communities, announces Sydney-based Hill Thalis as the winning architecture practice in its $1.25b urban renewal project at East Boundary Road, East Bentleigh.
Assemble undertook a concept masterplan design competition to secure a preferred approach and
design partner for the project—the first ever hosted by the development business.
Along with Hill Thalis, well-respected practices Grimshaw and Six Degrees were invited to participate
in the six week-long design competition, where each was invited to present its solution to reimagine
the urban renewal site located at 246 East Boundary Road, East Bentleigh.
The winning architecture practice was selected by a multi-disciplinary jury panel and the outcome
of the winning scheme is an invitation to design the first stage of the East Village development,
featuring 400 apartments and ground floor commercial across four buildings.
The masterplan will be developed in collaboration with MGS Architects, who have to date led the precinct vision work for the broader East Village renewal area.
East Village is Assemble’s largest future neighbourhood featuring 4.3ha of former industrial land,
located at the former Chassis Brakes automotive parts manufacturing facility that was in operation
for some 90 years.
East Village is located on the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. East Village is located within a future 24ha urban renewal precinct.
Assemble Director, Culture and Strategy, Emma Telfer said the practice was selected for its considered thinking, detailed response, and notable enthusiasm for the project.
“Hill Thalis has successfully responded to and challenged the project brief in a manner that will
contribute to the overall success of the design of a detailed masterplan for the site. Its submission
demonstrated great care in aligning innovative thinking with project parameters,” says Ms Telfer.
Hill Thalis Director, Philip Thalis describes the design: “We’ve populated the proposed urban
structure with a diverse range of dwelling types. Every housing type is anchored by a common
garden, or public space that helps to form micro-communities within the broader master plan.”
“The representation of community is the resultant patchwork of gardens, streets in the sky, squares
and courts that are the setting for a rich and varied civic life beyond the front door."
"The apartments will be celebrated as a ‘homecoming’ for future residents,” adds Thalis.
This initial design response proposed for the site by the Hill Thalis team - Philip Thalis, Laura
Harding and Jonathon Kibble – includes:
- Communal gardens at the first floor for each housing type that are gathered in large green
valleys that open via grand stairs towards streets and parks
- A large neighbourhood park with excellent sun access and play opportunities for the broader
Glen Eira community
- A network of civic spaces that is threaded across the site intended as thriving spaces both
during business hours as well as in the evenings and weekends
- Pedestrian focused streets with vehicle traffic kept to the perimeter
- Parking spaces that can be transitioned into alternate uses such as galleries, auditoria or
workplaces as private car use diminishes in the future.
Along with Emma Telfer, the jury included Andy Fergus, urban designer; David Waldren, Vicinity
Centres National Head of Design; Knowles Tivendale, Movement and Place Consulting Managing
Director; and Robyn Lukstin, Assemble Development Manager.
This multi-disciplinary team brought together by Assemble brought a broad range of experience to the assessment process, from urban design, architecture, development, retail planning, transport planning and cultural programming.
Lukstin says the contribution of key leaders in the development and design space was invaluable, including the support from respected design advocate, Andy Fergus, who worked with
Assemble to establish and shape the competition process, drawing heavily on the lessons from the
successful City of Sydney design excellence model.
“We applied a considered approach to this design competition, a first for our development team.
This allowed each of the participating practices an open environment and the creative freedom to
deliver a scheme that was respectful to the existing site and the future planning controls, while
allowing for the ideation of innovations,” says Lukstin.
Lukstin adds that the jury also commended the efforts of Six Degrees and Grimshaw Architects
that participated in the competition, as both produced exceptional schemes and an array of
innovative forwarding-thinking ideas.
Amongst the many highlights, Six Degrees showcased a deep understanding of how ground floor uses could be activated across the whole site and brought to life to create an organic thriving community around a strong ‘high street’ concept, while challenging the idea of separate business
and residential areas in favour of a flexible ground level across the whole site.
Grimshaw displayed an excellent grasp of the relationship of the site with its external connections,
as well as creating a series of unique internal spaces, including the skeletal retention and
reinterpretation of the existing saw-toothed industrial buildings from the former Brake factory.
Grimshaw had a strong concept for the commercial component of the development, with a proposed
‘incubator hub’ that drew upon their experience as the designers of the masterplan for the
University of Melbourne’s new campus in Fishermans Bend, as well the Fishermans Bend Innovation
East Village will be a masterplanned community and upon completion will comprise 3,000
dwellings, 15,000 sqm of retail floorspace, 80,000 sqm of commercial floorspace and will be home to
the new McKinnon College Second Campus scheduled to open January 2022.
The residential component will feature apartments under the developer’s innovative Assemble
Model, also known as Build to Rent to Own, that creates a pathway for home ownership, along with
Build to Rent.
This means that Assemble will remain custodians of the precinct activity and cultural
life well beyond the delivery of the development.
Assemble has also provided 4,000sqm warehouse space at East Village free from rent as a creative
design and innovation incubator which was launched by the Hon. Greg Hunt, Federal Minister for
Health in late 2019.
The incubator’s tenants include 3D medical printing company, Anatomics, an artist collective, and
charity, Impact for Women.