“We felt the design also required a civic quality,” he adds.
Previously occupied by warehouses and manufacturing plants, Waterloo is quickly being rediscovered by those looking for the convenience of inner-city living.
“We didn’t want to just to create another apartment block.
The brief was looking for design excellence,” he adds.
Once wetlands where brolga nestled, the site’s original trees had massive root systems cantilevered into the water’s edge, accessing the nutrients they needed as well as providing structural support for the massive trunks themselves.
This substantial natural structure that once existed provided inspiration for Chenchow Little’s brutalist-style concrete seven-level apartment (plus communal rooftop garden) building.
The base of the Waterloo apartments takes the form of chunky 400 millimetre columns that continue up to the rooftop, with the pergola on the rooftop also expressed with these massive beams.
“In a sense, the structure becomes the aesthetic, being predominantly concrete,” says Chenchow, who activated the ground level by creating retail tenancies for restaurants and cafes.
Entrance to the Waterloo apartments is via the angled concrete columns and up shallow concrete stairs, with a pale green tiled wall.
“Concrete is quite a sombre material so we used the tiles as a way of reflecting light as you enter,” says Chenchow, who also used timber for the exterior soffits on each level to add another layer or texture.
Chenchow Little Architects also wanted to open up the interior with a void piercing each level.
Residents are greeted with a void, lined with green vertical walls (with plants trained on steel wire) to replace the usual scenario of endless corridors wrapped in plaster.
“It’s important to have that verdant outlook, whether you’re just arriving home, or looking out of windows,” says Chenchow.
The Waterloo apartments comprise 38 in total, a combination of two and three bedrooms, varying in size from 80 through to approximately 90 square metres (the three-bedroom apartments extend across the top two levels).
The other shift in design thinking was to ensure that every apartment benefited from floor-to-ceiling glazing, with two aspects from each open plan kitchen and living space.
Sliding doors leading to the terraces also allow for cross-ventilation.
“Often an apartment layout restricts you to having only one outlook, creating a more restrictive environment,” says Chenchow.
The Waterloo apartments appear to be stripped back to ensure of the material used, predominantly concrete.
However, when one takes a closer look, there are subtle moves that take this design up several notches.
The bands of the precast concrete balustrades, for example, become narrower as one looks towards the upper level, with the use of increased glass.
“The balustrades were designed to become finer, because as you move up to the higher levels, the need for as much privacy slightly diminishes.
The reduction in the banding also creates a lighter effect,” adds Chenchow, who was as keen to leave the concrete in its natural form, rather than paint it, as happens with many apartments.
“Some have said that this building has a strong Japanese aesthetic.
I suppose it’s the way they reduce things to their critical elements.
Here, it was more about the site, a time when the Eora Nation explored these wetlands for hunting and fishing,” adds Chenchow.