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    Clever design with precast concrete panels

    Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia

    A luxurious new residential development in a prestigious beachside Adelaide suburb is testimony to the design principle that ‘less is more’.

    Architect Tony Lippis of Architects Ink resisted any temptation to utilise the full width of the site for the three-unit development overlooking West Beach on Seaview Road.

    Instead, he brought the outer walls in from the boundaries and created an ‘opening’ between the middle and third unit.

    The effect is to not just break down the overall scale of the development, but to create lightwells that flood the wet areas of each unit - including the central one - with natural light.

    “It would have been easy to fill the whole block. But we wanted to break it down so we could get natural light into those areas that ordinarily wouldn’t get it,” Lippis says.

    In the case of the first and third units, the lightwells were formed by insetting sections of each unit’s boundary wall either side of the upper-level kitchen, extending down to either side of the ground floor ensuite/bathroom.

    The lightwell for the centre unit was created by ‘breaking’ the common wall with the third unit. In fact, the two units share only a small section of common wall - to the point that from the road, the third unit appears to be free-standing.

    Precast concrete panels supplied by Adelaide-based Bianco Walling were used for the boundary and partition walls.

    “It was always our intention to use precast concrete panels because of the speed of construction it afforded us,” Lippis says.

    “In terms of wall thickness, it also had the advantage of not being as massive as, say, double brick or blockwork. And it meant we didn’t have to render - we just painted over the walls.”

    Internally, the precast concrete panels were exposed as walling in the living areas, although painted to match the outside facade.

    Adding to the structural integrity of the design, insitu-concrete slabs were used for the ground and upper level floors.

    Although the development is a block back from the beach, the units command sweeping ocean views. The overall height of the two-storey development was maximised by introducing a mezzanine level in the upper storey of each unit.

    From the road, each unit is set back behind its own double garage - but again, Lippis has created clear space between the garages for the provision of access, as well as to break down the scale.

    Entry to the ground level of each unit is gained through a courtyard behind its garage. The roof of each garage doubles as a private deck, connected to the upper level living area via a walkway that extends over the courtyard below.

    Bi-fold glass doors allow the upper level to be opened up, creating an extended living area in summer.

    Lippis says the design philosophy at work in the West Beach development ensured the middle unit wasn’t undervalued by potential buyers because it sat between the other units.

    “Our goal was to put the middle unit on an equal footing with the other two,” he says.

    Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia provides information on precast concrete panel construction.

    Photo : Trevor Fox

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