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Ripley Town Centre Redefines ‘Smart City’ Concept

Ripley Town Centre Redefines ‘Smart City’ Concept (1)

Sekisui House Australia—the master developer behind south-east Queensland’s Ripley Town Centre vision—together with placemaking partner RobertsDay, are redefining the “smart city” concept by putting people at the centre of the community’s urban design.

While the smart city framework typically draws on technology and digital solutions to solve urbanisation challenges and improve liveability, sustainability and prosperity, truly smart cities are designed around people and their needs, first and foremost.

RobertsDay Principal, Craig Christensen, believes in creating environments for people, rather than relying solely on technologies that could raise privacy and control concerns when it comes to our data.

“To us, a true smart city doesn’t forget that cities are places for people. They are loved because they encourage social interaction, rich exchange, and moments of surprise and delight,” Christensen said.

“Together at Ripley Town Centre, we’re creating a place that people want to be in and one that enriches lives, and this requires a very holistic and ‘smart’ approach.”

For the Ripley Town Centre masterplan vision, this has meant creating a community based on walkability and transit to enable seamless connectivity to all of life’s necessities—healthcare, education, retail, commercial, and recreational and community facilities.

The town centre’s vision draws on the 20-minute neighbourhood philosophy with all major facilities and amenities within a 20-minute walk, allowing future residents to live locally and in harmony with nature.

Ripley Town Centre Redefines ‘Smart City’ Concept (3)

“We’ve taken on this philosophy at Ripley Town Centre to get people out walking, cycling and interacting with their community,” Christensen said.

“Long commute times affect mental health and wellbeing, taking time away from family and work/life balance. From an energy and carbon footprint perspective, we also know relying solely on vehicles to access every day necessities is not sustainable in the long term.

“It’s better for our wellbeing and better for the planet to live life more locally.

“With Covid-19 placing a renewed and potentially long-term focus on remote working, what our local environment can offer in terms of walkability becomes critically important.”

To reinforce Ripley Town Centre’s connectivity vision, a proposed transit hub will link the region to Ipswich, Springfield, Brisbane and beyond, delivering on the requirements under the Ripley Valley Priority Development Area.

The transit hub, featuring rail and bus connections, will be vital to lead and sustain the community, and provide residents with affordable transport options that improve access to services and employment.

Christensen says his take on a smart city considers placemaking and the human experience as its core, but at a much broader level than architecture or urban design.

“When you’re placemaking, you’re attempting to make a place more loveable, liveable and productive—a place that people will thrive in,” he said.

“We look at the community, social, environmental and economic perspectives simultaneously and how we can sustain investment over a long period of time—a much more holistic approach than conventional urban design.”

It’s this thinking that brought to life Ripley Town Centre’s ten character precincts, a concept that isn’t commonly executed in the design space.

The town centre’s Civic Heart, for example, will be one of the many dedicated community spaces featuring cultural institutions, education and retail experiences surrounding a green forecourt, which will become home to major community events.

Ripley Town Centre Redefines ‘Smart City’ Concept (2)

The nearby Esplanade will feature alfresco dining and retail overlooking community play areas and lagoons, as well as family entertainment and leisure facilities, wide open spaces, and office and residential living with a public thoroughfare.

Similarly, The Greens linear park will provide community spaces to play, exercise, picnic, and work from, fringed by retail stores, cafés, restaurants and residential living.

These interconnected spaces will help to enrich lives by forging the connection between home, work and play, and create a self-sufficient, circular ecosystem—and a real sense of belonging.

Guided by the Japanese concept of Satoyama, or “ribbons of green”, the character precincts will also integrate natural habitats with built environments, allowing the community to connect with nature.

The vision for Ripley Town Centre also incorporates unique and playful “moments” every 100 to 150 metres along the journey, which further encourages walkability, social interaction and a feeling of place.

“We have taken advantage of Ripley’s beautiful scenic landscape as well when considering the centre’s building heights,” Christensen said.

“We developed a constellation pattern to create a dramatic skyline, and frame gateways and arrival points, which is the opposite to the traditional concentric dome of most other town centres.

“The benefit of not clustering all the tall buildings together also means we’re creating great access to breezes, daylight and surrounding views.”

These key elements have reinforced Ripley Town Centre’s “smart” design from the outset, elevating the human experience to enrich lives and create places that are well-loved.





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Uni Backs Gold Coast Student Housing Tower Plan

Uni Backs Gold Coast Student Housing Tower Plan (1)

Developer GC1st has lodged plans for a 12-storey student accommodation tower on the Gold Coast to be branded by Southern Cross University.

The application for a 173-unit tower at 99 Golden Four Drive, Bilinga includes 223 bedrooms, communal areas for studying, dining and recreation as well as a cafe and kiosk on the ground floor.

The design by BDA architects shows a mix of single and queen studio apartments as well as single rooms with shared kitchens and bathrooms.

The building, to be located near Gold Coast Airport and Kirra beach, would have a single level of basement parking as there was an “emphasis being placed on bicycle parking due to the student population and strong transport links in this location”, according to the application.

Uni Backs Gold Coast Student Housing Tower Plan (2)

Southern Cross University vice chancellor professor Adam Shoemaker said although they agreed to brand the tower with the university’s colours, they provided no financial outlay.

“The growth of our Gold Coast campus continues and there are very limited opportunities for students in terms of accommodation,” Shoemaker said.

“Although the Covid-19 crisis has caused a significant drop in international students, now is the time to get the planning and construction under way for such a project so that we are ready as soon as possible after the borders do re-open.”

Prior to the pandemic, international student enrolments reached 350,000 in Australia and the sector was trying to catch up with demands for accommodation.

Covid-19 hit the sector hard with international arrivals dropping to new lows and only a few universities participating in scaled student trials.

In recent months some student accommodation towers have also been repurposed for temporary crisis housing or mandatory 14-day quarantine for returned travellers.

Shoemaker said this latest development had merit and the university would work together to promote it to prospective students in the future.

“Equally, we have many domestic students from interstate and other parts of Queensland who would like to live much closer to campus,” Shoemaker said.

“We have accommodation at our Lismore and Coffs Harbour campuses and this service would be a welcome addition to the southern Gold Coast.”




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Brisbane’s Most Sought-After Development Projects

Brisbane’s Most Sought-After Development Projects (1)

Queensland is continuing to draw the attention of international buyers as global unrest from the Covid-19 crisis fuels a spike in inquiry for new property from foreign investors.

Residential property in both Brisbane and the Gold Coast has remained high on the radar of foreign investors—especially those located in Hong Kong—with international searches lifting 22 per cent year-on-year, according to REA Group.

REA Group chief economist Nerida Conisbee said there was strong anecdotal evidence many expats were re-evaluating their circumstances due to the coronavirus, and the low Australian dollar combined with record low interest rates proved an attractive value proposition.

Conisbee said the majority of people searching for property in Queensland were based in New Zealand, the UK, the US and Hong Kong.

High-rise developments in the inner-city suburb of South Brisbane were amongst the most-viewed products online, with Pradella Group’s under-construction Halo Residences project and R&F Property Australia’s $500 million Brisbane 1 apartment tower scoring high attention.

Conisbee noted that beach locations such as Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, and Noosa on the Sunshine Coast were the most in-demand among overseas buyers.

Gold Coast coast projects including Sunland Group’s soon-to-be-completed Magnoli Apartments and Spyre Group’s Natura project in Burleigh Heads also featured.

“Brisbane doesn’t see a lot of overseas searches—when people think of Queensland, they think of the beaches,” Conisbee said.

Here are the most-searched development projects by foreign investors across Brisbane and the Gold Coast.


Natura—Spyre Group
Burleigh Heads

Brisbane’s Most Sought-After Development Projects (6)

Brisbane-based Spyre Group’s $77 million, 17-storey Natura project—built over a 1,011sq m site located at 112 The Esplanade, Burleigh Heads—replaces a current mid-level apartment building developed by Mimi Macpherson, the sister of Australian supermodel Elle.

The Bureau Proberts-designed development will comprise 33 apartments with 16 levels of half-floor apartments and one ground floor terrace unit.


Magnoli Apartments—Sunland Group
Palm Beach

Brisbane’s Most Sought-After Development Projects (6)

Sunland’s Magnoli Apartments—which was originally submitted to the Gold Coast Council for approval in late 2016—occupies the site of a former 1.3-hectare caravan park located on the corner of Gold Coast Highway and Nineteenth Avenue.

The Palm Beach proposal comprises a 2,250sq m community park, two 12-storey apartment buildings, and six architectural terrace homes.


Halo Residences—The Pradella Group
South Brisbane

Brisbane’s Most Sought-After Development Projects (6)

Pradella Group’s 123-apartment Halo Residences, located at 33 Manning Street in South Brisbane, sits alongside the iconic 88-metre SkyNeedle—a prominent feature of Brisbane’s World Expo in 1988.

The development features a residents-only rooftop Sky Lounge providing panoramic city skyline views, a private dining room with courtyard terrace, wine bar, and modern wellness centre.


Brisbane 1—R&F Property Australia
South Brisbane

Brisbane’s Most Sought-After Development Projects (3)

Late last year, R&F Property Australia completed its $500 million Brisbane 1 apartment development, spanning an entire block in South Brisbane.

The residential development, built by Hutchinson Builders, transforms the site of a former TAFE college and consists of three separate towers of up to 33 storeys.


Queens Wharf Residences—Destination Brisbane Consortium
Brisbane CBD

Brisbane’s Most Sought-After Development Projects (2)

As part of the $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf development, 667 apartments will be delivered within a new 64-storey tower dubbed Queen’s Wharf Residences.

On track to open in 2022, Queen’s Wharf will showcase four hotels, 50 restaurants, cafes and bars, an extensive retail precinct, refurbished heritage buildings and a ­publicly-accessible Sky Deck offering CBD and river views.

In addition to Queen’s Wharf Residences, the development has scope for up to two more residential towers, with construction dates yet to be finalised.




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Mirvac Secures Approval for Newstead Tower

Mirvac Secures Approval for Newstead Tower (1)

Mirvac has won approval for another residential building at its $1 billion Newstead masterplan in central Brisbane.

The ASX-listed developer’s application to develop 143-apartments across a 25-storey residential tower was approved last week.

The project, to be built on a 5,400sq m site at 58 Skyring Terrace, follows the developer’s previous completions of 336 apartments across its Pier, Park and Unison projects.

Mirvac is currently undertaking its latest Newstead development, Shore, which will contain 333 apartments spread over two towers as well as offices and retail outlets at 60 Skyring Terrace.

Mirvac head of residential Stuart Penklis said the developer had had been in close contact with the community and council prior to lodging the development application in keeping with the local area’s neighbourhood plan.

“In speaking to the community prior to developing our design, we understand just how important Waterfront Park is to residents of this area,” Penklis said.

“We are excited to be expanding—and improving—this green space as part of the development, with over 50 per cent of our 5,552sq m site dedicated to open space.”

Mirvac Secures Approval for Newstead Tower (2)

Mirvac’s forthcoming Sky Precinct development, approved in just three months, continues the developer’s longstanding presence within the waterfront corner of Newstead where it has been delivering residential schemes for more than a decade.

Stage one, which completed in 2011, saw the development of two premium residential apartment buildings comprising of a total of 99 state-of-the-art apartments.

The masterplan’s second stage, Park, was completed in 2012, featuring 102 apartments in one, two and three-bedroom configurations.

Mirvac’s $200 million twin-tower residential development, Unison, opened in early 2017, featuring 135 apartments as well as nine terrace homes.

Mirvac also has development approval in place for another future stage, the Shore Precinct.

“[This] next stage has been designed as a ‘park within a park’, drawing greenery from neighbouring Waterfront Park up its façade and across lush landscaped balconies,” Penklis said.

Mirvac Secures Approval for Newstead Tower (2)

The developer said it could not disclose pricing for the 143 units in the 25-storey tower that will include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, as well as a handful of four-bedroom units.

Work is anticipated to commence on site in the coming months on a new waterfront sales and display suite, on the corner of Cunningham Street and Skyring Terrace, in preparation for the project’s launch.

Brisbane developer Limitless has also received approval for its Newstead project, a mixed-use residential scheme, incorporating the former Federal Boot Factory.

The 10-storey project, located across a 1,821sq m site at 14 Maud Street, features 56 apartments and rooftop deck and pool.

It will also include the retention and adaptive reuse of the Goldsworthy and Perkins Boot Factory heritage building into a flexible-use space such as ground floor retail.




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