Alice Blackwood visits Rivière by Aria Property and Bates Smart, pausing for an overnight stay, to explore the sustainability principles and design innovations underpinning Rivière’s unique lifestyle proposition.
October 26th, 2023
Having recently moderated a panel discussion around the future of build-to-own and build-to-rent housing, it’s very much top of mind for me, this conversation around quality of living. How is this conceived and delivered by developer and architect, and then experienced by the resident?
And what constitutes ‘quality of life’ as a concept: what are the ingredients that are used to compose a lifestyle or lived experience that transcends the ordinary, and also responds to the aspirations and expectations of owner-occupiers and residents?
A recent trip to Brisbane to visit Rivière, developed by asset owner Aria Property with architecture and interior design executed by Bates Smart, gave me plenty of food for thought, not to mention lived experience.
Here is an example of a 13-storey, 124-apartment residential complex that innovates in key areas of sustainability, sub-tropical architecture, Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) design code compliance, not to mention luxury-standard amenity.
Bates Smart director, Brenton Smith, emphasises the unique approach taken by Aria Property as an asset owner with a deep investment interest in the quality and longevity of its development.
Smith describes Rivière as an “urban retreat”, situated as it is, facing towards the river and the city, while also juggling neighbouring constraints. The design concept itself has revolved around creating an urban sub-tropical interior environment that feels relaxed, inviting and oasis-like.
Sustainability has been key to the design with time, research and long-term investments made to ensure the building upholds the values of its future-focused dwellers.
Where roofs are often considered free real estate, Aria Property has pushed the envelope, using 90 per cent of its rooftop space for solar panelling. This meant that the mechanical plant had to be integrated in the base of the building, above the carpark. “We essentially had to build more real estate to free that real estate up,” says Brent Liddell, development director at Aria Property.
The positive side effect of having so much solar panelling is that Rivière overproduces energy, which Aria then harvests and puts into nine Tesla battery walls, to charge the common areas by night. Financial savings made are also then used by the body corporate to offset green certified power.
Another point of pride for Aria Property is the incorporation of cross flow ventilation implemented across all levels of Rivière. To many, this might seem a no-brainer, but in a residential development of Rivière’s scope, it required some fairly clever architectural manoeuvring and then a serious investment into innovative perforated screen doors installed at every apartment entry.
“The architecture and interiors were planned and designed to leverage the best qualities of Brisbane’s subtropical climate,” notes Smith. Here, the ventilated corridors and the perforated screen doors “allow residents to keep their front doors open, for ventilation from the breezeway corridors, and also to encourage interaction with other residents”. Of note says Smith, are the “elegant metal grilles, located on the top of the doors, [which] encourage air flow and complement the screen doors.”
Another thoughtful gesture is the addition of breeze block sunscreens used to both shade and ventilate each apartment. Strategically placed on the exterior of the building where apartment windows and balconies occur they “allow the glazing [windows] behind to slide open fully”, notes Smith. It’s a beautiful design feature, both nostalgic in aesthetic, and a notable departure from typical Queensland residential architecture.
Amenity is a cornerstone of the Aria Property offer, and Rivière is no exception. Its ground-level and rooftop common areas are exquisitely designed to magnetically draw residents out of their apartments to mingle in both the comfort and beauty of amenities such as the infinity-edge pool, designed to resemble a natural rock pool; a magnesium plunge-pool overlooking to city rooftops and high-rises; long meandering lawns that snake around elegantly appointed hospitality zones, designed for hosting formal and informal meals, drinks, even hot-desking.
The landscaping, carried out by local landscape architects RPS Group, is key to Aria Property’s sustainability initiatives with native, grassland and forest-inspired landscaping used to enhance Rivière’s connection to its Kangaroo Point surrounds. The effect is quite beautiful, colourful and a bit bushy.
Liddell points out that Rivière houses nearly 2000 square metres of landscaping. This encompasses generous planter boxed integrated into the building’s façade so that the majority of apartment have views out to plantings, with the city skyline beyond. There are also positive conservation aspects associated with the choice of native flora (as opposed to tropical) and this includes the “greatly reduced amount of water use”.
One of Liddell’s own aspirations for Rivière was that it be accessible and inclusive to people of all generations, as well as those with disabilities. Here spaces are designed to be multi-generational, and Rivière is also SDA (Specialist Disability Accommodation) design code compliant. “This is the our first project that is fully compliant with the SDA design code,” says Liddell, who has taken many learnings from the process.
Rivière sets a new blueprint for Aria Property’s future residential developments, a majority of which you’ll find in the Brisbane’s inner south. Through Rivière we see an example of where inner-city residential living is heading – in a distinct direction of social and environmental responsibility, with emphasis on inclusivity and community, and comfort through connections to nature and an appreciation for aesthetic beauty. It may just be the new definition for luxury for high-density inner-city dwellers.
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