The project’s 4 585m2 site is in the ambitious new urban district at the long-neglected western end of central Newcastle. Identified for higher density around Wickham’s new Interchange – ideally located to take advantage of the transport, shopping, public places and civic open spaces.
The scheme’s urban benefits are key; along the site’s north-east boundary to Cottage Creek, a 6 metre wide dedication creates a new public landscaped pathway, which bisects this over-large urban block on the diagonal to improve pedestrian and cycle connections to the harbourfront.
The architectural strategy is decisive. The Verve Residences is distinguished by a pair of slender 20 storey fan-shaped towers look north-eastern, angled to address the creek frontage. Their broad face to the north-east has multiple advantages in terms of access to sun and sea breeze, views and privacy. These slender towers have much smaller footprints than is the norm; just 582m2 and 536m2, resulting in less bulk, more perimeter and greater amenity.
To King Street, the 5 storey street wall establishes a new scale and continuity to this broad boulevard, matching a confident architectural expression to its unfulfilled urban potential. Placed at the pivot point where tower and podium intersect, the grand entry concrete portal celebrates the residents’ experience of home coming. This 5-storey board-form concrete wall with hand crafted in-laid tiles is the first in a sequence of public art components. The public art concept interprets Newcastle’s mining history and geological substrate, as seen in the sculpted cliffs along the oceanfront.
Screened by the street wall and the towers is an embedded 4 storey car park, concealed by a folded perforated metal art screen visible to Cottage Creek. The art screen is framed by two board-form concrete portals – a continuation from the main entry, that link the two towers. Above the carpark is a generous landscaped podium. This garden is framed as the prime communal focus for future residents with vegetable gardens, seating and shade pergolas.
Each of the 208 apartments is designed to fit its specific situation within the overall site plan, providing light, air, amenity, privacy, and alternatively a green, screened or panoramic outlook. Over 95% of apartments receive at least 1 hour’s sun, and a high proportion are cross ventilated (well in excess of SEPP 65 minima). With 26 different types of apartments, the Verve complex has significant diversity in size, layout and affordability.
In addition to the residential accommodation, the project also includes a mix of retail and commercial spaces at the ground and first level addressing King Street and new public frontage along Cottage Creek.
The direct architectural material palette of concrete, brick and powder-coated metal components were carefully composed to achieve a timeless aesthetic, durability and reduce ongoing maintenance. The robust and considered architecture of the overall design ensures the project will endure and positively contribute to the future of Newcastle’s evolving cityscape.
The design was developed in extensive consultation with Government Architect’s Design Excellence Panel who also reviewed and advised throughout the construction stage.