Matthews & Scavalli

Berwick Street TOWNHOUSES & Hill VIew Apartments

Questions and Answers

Where do you start when planning your designs?

For us it starts with the basics of addressing the brief in terms of room amenity and associated room sizes. This is by no means a fixed linear route as we see the process of design as fluid – spaces and layouts are informed by the experiential aspect of how someone may use/live in the project. We also tend to refer to precedent in terms of images and similar projects to both assist as in composing the project but also to help convey the design aspirations to the client at the early stages.

Why is customisation important for buyers?

Purchasers are getting more sophisticated and are actively seeking options and customisation. The idea of customisation gives the purchaser a sense that the project is further amended to suit their needs and perhaps through this they may feel a greater connection with the property. Ultimately, I believe, it is important to purchasers as they tend to be actively connected through social media to design and aspects of ‘living’. These captivating images arm purchasers with ‘aspirations’ of living and I think that through this added access to imagery purchasers have a greater ‘global’ resource of what the possibilities could be.

Aesthetic beauty and functionality are both fundamental to design. How have you ensured both are achieved simultaneously?

Both elements are intrinsically connected and considered from the start for us. The ‘flow’ of spaces and the success of how the project will be inhabited comes first to our process, however the aesthetic qualities of materiality, colour/texture and light are always being considered to test the proposal. For example, we will often sketch vignettes of internal spaces to test where a window should go or how the application of timber battens to a stair could add considerable interest to a space in how it cast shadows.

What rules have you broken to make your designs truly unique and contemporary?

I wouldn’t say that we broke rules…more so gave the ‘normal’ a tweak. Whenever we work closely with developers we tend to establish early whether or not the ‘normal’ is expected. In this case Hamlen extended to us a degree of confidence based on the fact that East & Co. needs to offer the market something interesting and sophisticated. As such we took into consideration instances whereby we could explore elements of the designs that were a little ‘different’ to what the typical market offers. The real advantage of being involved on a project offering various types of housing opportunities is that we could, as a group of designers, establish differences in both planning and aesthetic outcomes.

How much is the local area lifestyle incorporated into your design thinking?

We specifically took cues from the bushland adjoining the site. This space informed the layout of the apartment development, specifically the experience to users of the building in so far as when they enter the building they are offered elevated views over the bushland ensuring that every occupant associates the bushland as part of their outdoor experience. Aside from the potential beauty of interacting visually with this space daily, perhaps it will also encourage the occupants to explore the area physically by seeking out walks through the space. Materially we also sought to reference the local built context of older single family homes in the area through the use of face brickwork which is established as a fairly consistent material quality throughout the entire precinct. It seems simple in its application but we believe that people will tend to make these connections over time as they continue to explore their neighbourhood. To us as architects we will often seek opportunities to plant ‘seeds of reference’ in our projects that make subtle connections with local context and while there is no guarantee that people do make immediate connections, we believe that these connections happen organically over time as people ‘map’ out their daily travels and lives.

From a lifestyle viewpoint, the area allows for great access to outdoor spaces, schools and retail areas within a relatively short distance. In this aspect it is very easy to consider that lifestyle opportunities will offer purchasers a reason to seek out a property at East & Co.

East & Co. is a true collaboration between top architects and designers. How do you think the product has been elevated as a result?

We relish collaboration as it creates a ‘finer grained’ approach to delivering a solution. I think that if the project had been left to a single author then it would not be anywhere near as successful in delivering interesting product and diversity of living options. Ultimately the developer should be commended in seeking out different ‘voices’ to deliver the outcome. The designs are also collectively tied together through the wonderful landscaping proposed across the entire site that provides a considered and verdant canvas upon which the various designs are ‘curated’. I think that the result truly makes East & Co. more desirable as a precinct for people to call home.