13 Nov 23

Bondi heritage and sustainability key to “best-in-class adaptive reuse”

Sustainability, heritage and community are the guiding objectives for a striking mixed-use development on iconic Bondi Road.

Local developer Allambi Property, run by former Lendlease executive Shaun Bond, has lodged a development application on behalf of the owners for the site on the corner of Wellington Street and Bondi Rd with Waverley Council.

The design by Woods Bagot retains seven 1933 shopfronts and a small 1936 residential block while delivering 16 apartments and mixed-use retail on the vibrant strip.

Mr Bond says the project is backed by a group of investors, including some born and bred Bondi locals who have lived in the area for up to 80 years and are passionate about an outcome that is right for the area.

That meant adapting and re-using the original buildings wherever possible and integrating a mature fig tree.

“We wanted something that just looked right for the area, like it was meant to be, and respects and celebrates not only the history on site but the area surrounding it,” Mr Bond says.

“Keeping so much of the original buildings is such a great starting point – to retain rather than demolish and rebuild puts you miles in front from a sustainability perspective.”

He says it’s “a best-in-class example of adaptive reuse and sustainable design” and that Allambi chose Woods Bagot’s proposal over others because it retained the neighboring flats, known as Manningham, the shopfronts at 222 Bondi Road and the fig tree inbetween.

“What struck us about the original Woods Bagot concept is that it just looked like it was meant to be there while also retaining Manningham,” says Bond, adding that research by specialist heritage architect John Oultram revealed both buildings were designed by the same architects, Spain & Cash.

“The tree was also very important to us. We saw it as a great feature for amenity which takes decades to create and it’s already there on site – how do we work with it?”

Woods Bagot also saw the fig tree as an opportunity. Principal Jason Fraser says a primary design goal was retaining the tree and making it the fulcrum of a courtyard while utilising its generous canopy for shading and resident amenity.

360 Degrees Landscape Architecture collaborated with Woods Bagot, taking a holistic approach to the landscape design of the courtyard and biophilic additions to the built form. 

“The key focus for us was to achieve heightened sustainability on a project that is relatively small in scale, which in the residential sector can be difficult, and create a sense of community benefit,” Fraser explains.

“We saw three opportunities that went beyond the regular expectations. From a heritage point of view the Bondi Road building was crucial because of its historic façade, and we thought we could keep Manningham and integrate that into future outcomes.

“This approach was very sustainable, and it also sits quite consistently with current scale – that was very important from a community aspect, as was the retention of the fig tree.

“The third consideration was to not have fences but rather build a courtyard around the tree with retail activation that fully utilised the corner site and was open to the community.”

Fraser says sustainability often just gets dumbed down to ceiling fans and photovoltaic panels – “the standard stuff that we as architects are required to do. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call yourself sustainable when you’re just checking a box.

“So with this project we focused on health and wellness aspects such as integrated landscaping, naturally ventilated spaces, cross-ventilation, solar aspects, acoustics, and for as many residents as possible to be looking into the canopy of the big tree because that to me from personal experience is a beautiful way to inhabit apartments.”

The four-storey development – the top two levels are set back from the shop fronts to soften massing – will be all-electric and feature one, two and three-bedroom apartments appealing to diverse buyers.

Bond says the Bondi apartment development market is active – primarily concentrated on Campbell Parade and the beachfront. Most of the demand is coming from local downsizers and professionals. “It’s a very local market,” he says.

But there hasn’t been as much development in the heart of Bondi, along Bondi Road.

“This little hub and intersection on Bondi Road there really hasn’t seen any new product and it could really benefit from some re-invigoration.”


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Martin Kelly
Content & Communications Leader Australia & New Zealand

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