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Melbourne’s first suspended residential “sky pool”

Approval has been granted to the largest-ever project to be launched in the Melbourne precinct of Boroondara. Costed at $300 million, the Rothelowman-designed Hawthorn Park project will contain a total of 368 residences.

Not just breaking records for its size, Hawthorn Park is also remarkable for being the first residential development in Melbourne to feature a suspended swimming pool. The “sky pool” will be constructed as a 25-metre lap-style pool that hovers between the two apartment towers and provides access to residential amenities.

“The sky pool was designed as a link between buildings for [access] to amenities. The idea of the sky pool was birthed from the idea of a bridge into a pool,” explains Rothelowman lead architect, Kim Lowman.

“The sky pool sets up a spectacular portal to the entry, demonstrating structural agility with a sense of [interactivity] for the tenants. Swimmers get a spectacular view but are equally on show as they lap. There is an equally impressive resort-style plunge pool adjoining this bridge pool.”

The two, tiered apartment blocks were designed to correspond to the overarching concept, which was to bring scale to the project’s three street frontages.

“Hawthorn Park has street frontages along three boundaries which require careful consideration,” says Lowman. “We saw this as an opportunity for active frontage along Burwood and Camberwell Roads. To contrast with the soft edge created within the central zones of the development, a hard edge was established around the perimeter to create a sense of protection and containment of the interior spaces. This hard edge is driven by a series of feature elements, which serve to visually break down the composition along the street edge and create a sense of identity and interest.”

The idea of creating a “crafted valley landscape with a soft, tiered edge and a sense of scale within the central zone” led to a façade design of stepped and contoured forms. Horizontal bands of textured concrete wrap the two structures and create a series of strata-like levels that cascade to the ground.

“Imagery was inspired by the stepped landforms of rice paddy fields and the stone terraces of Macchu Pichu,” says Lowman.

This pastoral imagery is complemented by an exterior palette of textural and natural materials, such as concrete, bluestone, timber and charcoal finishes. The colours of the external walls are drawn in soft natural tones, and green glass fills several exterior panels.

Landscape architecture was a crucial aspect of Hawthorn Park, especially considering its sizeable internal courtyard area. For the design of these exterior spaces – which include a community rooftop garden and edible gardens – Rothelowman collaborated with renowned Melbourne-based landscape architect, Jack Merlo.

“We incorporated edible gardens into the communal spaces, such as the rooftop,” says Lowman. “Community-based gardening projects are providing a much-needed connection to both local communities and the earth.

“Every element is not only aesthetically pleasing but also highly functional.”

Hawthorn Park is being developed by Dahua Group Melbourne. Construction is set to finish sometime in 2019.

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