A Sky Pool in Hawthorn – The First Suspended Pool On A Residential Development In Victoria

A Sky Pool in Hawthorn – The First Suspended Pool On A Residential Development In Victoria

Rothelowman is the architecture firm designing Hawthorn Park and I caught up with Director Kim Lowman to find out more about the spectacular sky pool

 Kim, What was the inspiration and design process for the spectacular pool at Hawthorn Park?

The sky pool was designed as a link between buildings for accessibility to amenities. The idea of the sky pool was birthed from the idea of a bridge into a pool.

The sky pool sets up a spectacular portal to the entry, demonstrating structural agility with a sense of interactive fun for the tenants. Swimmers get a spectacular view, but are equally on show as they lap. There is also an impressive resort style plunge pool adjoining this bridge pool.

Features such as this, or other place-making functions, certainly add to the project cost but significantly add to the livability of the project which was the ultimate aim.

Were there difficulties in getting council approval for the pool? 

None, in fact council were supportive of all design possibilities that we offered.

Do you think the pool will be a key selling feature of the precinct?

The pool at Hawthorn Park is the first suspended pool in Victoria for a residential dwelling, as such has been a key identifier in the development. There’s also been a lot of talk and coverage of the suspended pool in the media, which we believe would be an influential factor for many purchasers. I would certainly like to spend some time in the pool, so I can relate to those purchasers!

And with the wider design of Hawthorn Park, how did you approach the three street frontages?

Hawthorn Park has street frontages along three boundaries which require careful consideration. Careful articulation of street frontages creates identity and interest, we saw this as an opportunity for active frontage along Burwood and Camberwell Roads.

To contrast with the soft edge created within the central zones of the development, a hard edge was established around the perimeter to create a sense of protection and containment of the interior spaces. This hard edge is driven by a series of feature elements, which serve to visually break down the composition along the street edge and create a sense of identity and interest.

The feature elements are crafted and angular, with a hard bluestone outer edge. The scale of these forms varies in response to surrounding context, having larger elements within the Commercial Zone to Camberwell Road, medium sized elements to Burwood Road and smaller scale elements which respond to adjacent residential dwellings along the Western Laneway. Perforated screens to residential terraces along the street front serve to create a sense of layering and provide privacy to terraces behind.

What did you want to achieve with a project of this scale? What were some of the desired design outcomes?

We wanted to achieve a design that would encourage interaction and ultimately create a sense of community for residents. The development provides a unique opportunity to create a connection between Burwood and Camberwell Roads. A large central landscaped courtyard provides aspect from apartments and defines the pedestrian experience through the ideas of movement and erosion inform the gently curved edges of the internal pedestrian areas.

Public piazzas at entry points to the site off Burwood Road and Camberwell Road create openings into the development. Feature stairs cut a pathway into the open contoured space. The sunken courtyard garden within creates a layered spatial experience and provides visual connection, interest and recreation.

The primary design driver for the internal faces of the development was the creation of a crafted valley landscape, with a soft tiered edge and a sense of scale within the central zone. Imagery was inspired by the stepped landforms of rice paddy fields and the stone terraces of Machu Pichu.

This concept informed the notion of a central courtyard space, and the facade treatment created by tiered and contoured forms. Horizontal concrete bands with a textured finish are evocative of stone terraces, creating a series of strata like levels, while green glass and external walls in a colour palette of soft natural tones are drawn from a natural palette.

What was the approval process like? Did you have to return to the drawing board at any point?

With any project, there will always be amendments throughout the project life cycle. We were fortunate to work with such a progressive client in Dahua Group so the process was streamlined and a smooth flow throughout design process.

Hawthorn Park was approved without VCAT due to proactive council engagement through the design phase coupled with upfront neighbour consideration and open communication. The design offered real community benefit with cross block links, activating lane ways and inspiring architecture. Context was also a large consideration when it came to the design of Hawthorn Park and its surroundings.