Designed by PBD Architects, 37-47 Farr Street, Marrickville is a unique development of 51 residences located in the rezoned Timberyards precinct in Sydney. A joint venture between Braxton and Rebel Property Group, the holistic, collaborative efforts between all project stakeholders resulted in a beautifully-designed scheme that is now lodged with Council.
In keeping with our belief in sharing knowledge to lead our industry into a new era of design excellence, here are the top engineering challenges Neuron faced and the solutions we developed in response.
Which of these solutions can be applied to your next project?
Challenge #1 Setbacks and Substations
Setbacks are a necessary part of every development. In the case of 41-47 Farr Street, the challenge of designing within a limited space was paired with another key challenge of getting power to site. Neuron worked to develop a power connection strategy that fit within the site extent, without impacting the building, views, or neighbouring properties.
Neuron rapidly tested all of the available substation solutions including indoor and outdoor configurations to find the optimal arrangement to minimise impact on the building, views and the neighbouring properties. The clients’ preferred design solution was a discreet location next to the driveway, where we squeezed in a substation and a blast wall. As substations are typically owned and operated by Ausgrid, the selected design then had to be approved for its location and functionality. The strategic location and landscaping further minimised the visual impact, helping the substation to remain as invisble as possible.
Challenge #2 Creating space for roof amenities
How do you find plant space on the roof when the option of a lap pool was explored as being the main feature? Like many high-end residential developments, the rooftop at 37-47 Farr Street presented a fantastic opportunity to provide luxe shared amenity, including a potential lap pool, communal spaces and extensive landscaping with views. The challenge was to come up with a strategy to remove typically roof-centric plant and equipment into other areas of the building, without compromising functionality.
Solution - Solar
As the shared deck is one of the main features of the 37- 47 Farr Street development, it was important to reduce any visual clutter surrounding this space. One of our unique design solutions was to incorporate rising landscaping beds to hide unsightly solar panels. Leveled at a low, ten-degree incline, the solar panels caused no overshadowing or visual disruptions behind the strategically-placed landscaping. Solar power will serve common property loads, including EV chargers, lifts, lighting, and communal amenity. Due to height controls and overshadowing the solar panels couldn’t be too high.
Solution - Engineering plant
Engineering plant is another bulky rooftop inclusion that required rethinking to activate the roof and shared facilities. The solution was to create areas at the back of the site, including two plant rooms with access through a common area for a low noise solution unable to be seen from the roof. Additionally, we incorporated raised decking to hide roof-centric pipework that provides air conditioning to the apartments.
Challenge #3 Temperature control & car parking
Typically, domestic hot water in residential apartments is heated using gas boilers. To reach the ambitious sustainability targets of this development, we wanted to come up with a solution for an all-electric building, that is, to provide hot water to apartments without using gas. The challenge was to overcome the common problem we have with heat pumps, which is that they need to go on the roof and they are very large.
In place of gas boilers, we used an electric heat pump. Operating very similarly to an air conditioning unit, electric heat pumps absorb heat from the atmosphere instead of rejecting it. We therefore determined that the best placement for the heat pumps was in a place where plenty of heat is already reticulating, often at uncomfortable levels: the basement car park. The added bonus then, is that the heat pumps are heating water, while cooling the car park at the same time. We chatted with our suppliers, @Rheem, to find an arrangement they were comfortable with. As the first to develop this unique solution, we are proud of its success in serving multiple functional purposes.
With a small development like this, parking space is essential. We clustered equipment into dead areas in the carpark corners to maximise car parking space and reduce crowding.
Being a small building, time restraints in the early design phase often prove a barrier to design teams from finding innovative solutions to common design challenges. Since Neuron software allows us to resolve the basics quickly, our time is used to understand challenging design issues and finding innovative solutions that drive home a holistic project vision.
We were fortunate to be engaged to plan all the services, including mechanical, electrical, fire engineering, hydraulics and lifts. Therefore, we were not only able to lock in design details early, we were able to tackle the engineering aspects in a holistic manner, leading to maximum efficiency.
Neuron is proud of the key solutions we developed to unlock value and reduce risk on this incredible residential project. In our experience, giving architects more time to find efficient soutions is key to a successful project design. By providing detailed engineering advice early on, PBD Architects were able to focus on what they do best; design beautiful buildings that people want to live in.
To find out how Neuron can drive home your project vision with innovative engineering solutions, get in touch with Steve today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Architect: PBD Architects
Developer: Braxton & Rebel Property Group
Landscape Design: Arcadia
Preliminary ASPL3 Advice: Projen