Gem, Waterline Place

Gem, Waterline Place

Architect
Elenberg Fraser Architecture
Location
Melbourne, VIC, Australia | View Map
Category
Apartments
Timothy Burgess

Gem, Waterline Place

Elenberg Fraser Architecture as Architects

Who says luxury living has to be confined to the inner city? Not Elenberg Fraser, that’s for sure. Gem Waterline proves it: our new building – part of the new masterplanned Waterline precinct, a new AV Jennings development in Williamstown – is bringing a new generation of apartments and townhouses to the historic maritime precinct. Like all of our projects, luxury is here is much more than skin deep. This development is a game-change, pushing the boundaries of suburban living with a new prototype, which will change the way we understand multi-residential living.

We didn’t need to look far for inspiration - the area’s maritime and industrial history has informed Gem’s architecture. The multiple scales present in the nearby marina were the perfect metaphor for the project’s staggered massing, with larger townhouses appearing as a cruiser docked in the harbour, surrounded by the texture and movement of smaller skiffs and sailboats of the adjacent apartments.

This nautical sensibility has been abstracted throughout the architectural language. The movement of the dynamic facade is the wind through the sails and boats tacking through the water, anchored by the robust materiality of the wharf. A ribbon runs around the building, resting on the glass balcony balustrades encircling the apartments it appears to float in the breeze. Screening to the carpark is presented as a shimmering, rotating blade, the reflection of the water on a ship’s hull. The saw-toothed roofs of local warehouses find their counterpart in the industrial detailing of the podium elements, including screening in perforated metal and bolted metal cladding.

Why is this building a prototype? It’s all in the technical response. We wanted to minimise the negative aspects of apartment living: the trek down those anonymous corridors from the lift to your front door. Our solution was splitting one building into two, which gave us dual building cores that fittingly serve a dual purpose. Firstly, the corridors are shorter with more lifts, which means more friendly and accessible shared entry spaces that foster a community feeling rather than a gulf between neighbours. Secondly, this approach gives us more valuable building perimeter, meaning that certain apartments gain a dual frontage, which when you’re near the sea means double the views, able to be enjoyed from both of your balconies. Breakfast watching the sunrise and dine watching the sun set.

Inside, these homes are exactly that: places to store the treasured possessions and mementos that you have built up over a lifetime. Kept deliberately like blank canvases for a downsizing demographic, there are plenty of opportunities to customise the space, with feature joinery and other adaptations available. The same robust marine materials used on the exterior are transposed to the interior, with quality timber finishes and textured surfaces that will only improve with age.

Gem Waterline responds to its local environment at an aesthetic level, while at a technical level it represents profound improvements to apartment living as we know it. Art plus science, at Elenberg Fraser, that’s what we do.

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