Kangaroo Point Jumpstarts Green Building Trend

Demonstrating the growing trend towards green architecture and sustainability in building design, Kangaroo Point’s Walan Apartments will be the first development in Brisbane’s fiercely competitive apartment-style high-rise market to utilise a large-scale “green wall”. Featuring a vertical forest that was designed to become an architectural landmark in Kangaroo Point, which is widely considered as Brisbane’s Little Manhattan, Walan’s address on #2 Scott Street is certainly going to give the precinct’s cityscape a picturesque and memorable addition to its riverfront skyline.

Inspired by the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, the building’s design incorporates six-metre high semi-mature trees which are braced and entwined, 14-storeys high, and growing up the spine of the main street elevation. “We’ve taken the green wall to new heights … This has never been achieved in apartment living in Australia before,” Cam Ginardi of developer GBW Group, proudly says.

Liam Proberts, architect and director of Bureau Proberts, is the creative genius behind the “vertical landscaping”, which draws inspiration from nature and the site’s relationship with its environment. “The main idea for this project was to create a home with a connection to the landscape … like having a mini-backyard running up the building,” Mr. Proberts explains.

“I’ve not worked on anything quite like this, but there is definitely a growing theme in Queensland of melding the indoor with the outdoor, and so this seemed like a logical thing to do … I’m sure it will be a model for future developments.” Mr. Proberts adds.

Such is the designer’s concern for preserving the site’s relationship to its natural environment that a heritage house which has originally been on-site, has been retained and carefully restored, to house a gym, lap pool, and kitchen in its new incarnation.

Other Green Buildings

Artist’s Impression of Jardino. From Brisbane Development.

Kangaroo Point is certainly getting its share of green buildings. In recent news, another project by Bureau Proberts, a 19-storey “breathing building” will soon rise on Hamilton Street. Aptly named Jardino, the building will have flowering plants on stainless steel screening wrapped around the structure, with a rainwater tank on the rooftop feeding a centralised watering system for the plants.

443 Queen Street, Brisbane. Photo from Brisbane Development.

Meanwhile, in Brisbane, a controversial 47-level tower will soon rise on 443 Queen Street, just a stone’s throw away from the iconic Customs House. Expected for completion in early 2018, this $375 million tower will have multiple gardens composed of stacked ledges at the building’s base. The top ledges will have trees, with shrubbery strategically positioned up the building’s side.

In Sydney, One Central Park has scored a world’s first, with its 116-metre vertical green walls. Designed by noted French botanist Patrick Blanc, it contains 35,000 plants. The building has thus far won at least 28 awards for its architecture, interior design and green credentials, including the International Green Infrastructure Award from the World Green Infrastructure Congress, and the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s award for Best Tall Building Worldwide.

Professor Sue Holliday, an authority on Urban Policy and Strategy from the University of NSW, made an excellent observation in her statement about Sydney’s One Central Park. “They made a lot of positive moves in that direction, which is where inner-city regeneration needs to go,” Prof. Holliday said, referring to incorporating sustainability in design.

Given Kangaroo Point’s vertical forest at Walan and the “breathing building” of Jardino, plus Brisbane’s Queen Street green development, Queensland’s architectural cityscape certainly seems to be branching out and growing in the right direction.