With the density of our cities on the increase, and comfort and convenience central to the urban experience, mixed-use buildings aptly reflect the shift in the way we live. “Having real, liveable places where people can live, work and be a part of a community is the key,” says Andrew Tobin, the Development Director - Mixed-Use at Mirvac. “People don't want to work at a business park that shuts down at 5pm and then have to commute. Likewise, they probably feel more comfortable not living in big housing blocks because they want to be able to experience their community, have access to retail and employment opportunities. So I definitely think there is a shift towards mixed-use developments.”
With the purpose of reimagining urban life underpinning Mirvac’s efforts, mixed-use developments are the space the company has set their focus on. “It's not just putting in a residential building next to an office building, and adding in a bit of retail. You need to have experts in all of those fields, and you have the capability to bring that all together seamlessly. And I think we're one of few companies that has the capacity and the capability to focus on the different types of elements that come together in mixed-use development. ”
As a Development Director - Mixed-Use, Andrew is responsible for the management and delivery of some of Mirvac’s most complex projects, such as Harbourside and Waterloo Metro Quarter in Sydney. With quite a few high-profile developments under his belt, we ask about some of the most important design considerations and challenges associated with mixed-use projects.
“First of all, you need to find the right site,” Andrew says, adding that it’s important for the location to be well-connected by public transport. “And then you need to know what you're delivering – and why you're delivering it,” Andrew says, highlighting the importance of getting the brief right.
“You also need to know the community that you're going into,” Andrew continues. “And that's why we do have quite a comprehensive stakeholder engagement programme leading up to any mixed-use development.” He offers an example of the South Eveleigh development where ensuring the residents felt like they were still part of that community was crucial. “A lot of that is done through the activation of the spaces down in the precinct, and making sure that the retail offerings are suitable both for the people who work there now, but also the people who are already living in the neighbourhood,” he explains.
Andrew points out that the sequencing of a mixed-use development is crucial, too – particularly for the larger projects that get completed in stages. “When you're completing and opening one stage, but other stages are still in development, how do you supplement that and ensure that people don’t have to work directly next to a construction site? How do you ensure that the precinct is activated and feels like a place right from the first stage?”
“And then, of course, the other challenge is making sure that development is efficient. When you've got a mixed-use building, you've got different competing amenities and the like. Sometimes your typical metrics around creating an efficient building might need to be tailored for the nature of having different uses in one building.”
There is no doubt that a lot goes into bringing these multifaceted developments to life. And, Andrew highlights, getting the right outcome for the customers and stakeholders is at the core of what Mirvac does. “Whether it's the residents who are going to live there, the workers and retailers who are going to work there, the visitors to spaces that have been created or the community that you're developing, getting the right outcome for those customers and those people is absolutely key,” he sums up.
Listen to the full episode to learn more about some of Andrew’s exciting projects, the importance of housing affordability in mixed-use developments – and the innovative “build-to-rent” concept Mirvac is pioneering.