Nestled on a hill overlooking Bondi Beach, The Moreton is a collection of five low-rise buildings arranged around a central green courtyard and the historic Scarba House. The project simultaneously shows respect for its urban context, existing landscape and the site’s heritage.
A collaboration between Mirvac Design and Smart Design Studio, the development intertwines luxury with nature and modern architecture with community; the latter achieved by incorporating an ‘allee’ through the centre of the site that links previously disconnected streets for the convenience of the neighbourhood.
Each of the five buildings, which collectively house 190 apartments ranging from studios and penthouses to private townhouses, have been carefully angled to optimise the northern sun, sea breezes, green space and iconic views. And while they’re all subtly different to respond to their immediate surroundings, all the buildings are connected by a common design language of crisp white, brick facades.
“Painted face brick with raked joints was used to reference Bondi’s adjoining brick buildings in a contemporary way, whilst also providing a robust and durable exterior for a coastal setting,” says Carolyn Mitchell, from Mirvac Design.
“Brick was the ideal material for creating the contemporary yet classical look we wanted, while imbuing the low-rise boutique buildings with a unique character that links back to the heritage of the site. We opted for Dry Pressed bricks from PGH Bricks due to their high quality, and the company’s ability to design custom extrusions for the acute, angled façade elements, which highlight the buildings’ design and architectural intent.
“Bronze metalwork, reminiscent of the detail of heritage facades, offers a contrast to the solid white brick - adding warmth to the colour palette and reflecting the colours of the landscape. Landscape was key to this project, with the buildings carefully designed around the heritage garden, including the magnificent listed fig trees from which the development derives its name.”
Retaining heritage items such as the trees, Scarba House and significant sandstone wall elements were initially a challenge for the architectural team but they have expertly leveraged these features to enhance the development’s aesthetic and functionality. The sculptural qualities and generous canopies of the century-old Moreton Bay Fig trees, for example, have been utilised to create a series of shared outdoor spaces that vary in scale and use. This includes ‘the kitchen garden’ which offers a place for residents to compost, plant and harvest vegetables, as well as being a social area for community gatherings and celebrations via the barbecue and gardens.
The necessity to keep Scarba House, a beautifully preserved Victorian Italianate building that has been reinvented as Moreton Manor, presented a rare opportunity to offer a free-standing, single-occupancy dwelling within a medium density residential development.
All apartments within The Moreton have been designed to exceed the Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) for water and energy by 75 per cent. Key sustainability initiatives include the planting of 70 new low-water, native plants and trees, parking space for over 200 bicycles, the aforementioned composting facilities, LED lighting to reduce power consumption costs by up to 75 percent, and the installation of a 99,500L rain water tank used for toilet flushing and irrigation.
“The project’s social and environmental aspirations are to extend the life of the site, which had been vacated by its previous user,” says Mitchell.
“Moreover, by taking the existing streetscape and neighbours’ access to local facilities into consideration when designing The Moreton, the outcome is a precinct enjoyed by its residents and the public alike: A contemporary, distinctive, sustainable community of multi-residential homes within a unique landscape.”