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Architectural charm in Docklands

31 Aug 2017

Architectural charm in Docklands Image

By Sunny Liu

With a number of NewQuay’s developments within its portfolio, local architecture company DKO has been making a significant contribution to Docklands’ architectural character.

DKO Architecture relocated its office from the CBD to a former hospitality venue in NewQuay five years ago, but its involvement in this area dated back to the very beginning.

Back when Docklands was still regarded as an industrial wasteland, DKO saw the harbour-side suburb’s potential in becoming a destination.

The company designed one of the first residential landmarks in Docklands, the 42-floor Victoria Point on the corner of Harbour Esplanade and Bourke St, in 2003.

Its other Docklands projects include the Marina Tower, Four Points by Sheraton, Marriot Hotel, Elm & Stone, Quest Apartment Hotel, NewQuay Central and the NewQuay West masterplans.

Directors Michael Drescher and Raymond Mah said DKO wanted to help create a 24-hour activation in Docklands.

“Instead of designing just residential buildings, the mixed-used developments can attract visitors. With the three new hotels and public art installations in NewQuay, we will bring more tourists and more day-to-day activity to NewQuay and really activate this area,” Mr Drescher said.

“We want that weekend business to be here everyday.”

Mr Mah said mixed-use projects like Marriot Hotel provided a range of experiences for visitors and residents.

“Each hotel that we design comes with a variety of facilities, such as a restaurant, a cafe and conference rooms. So it just really adds to the whole offering and adds more colour to Docklands,” he said.

DKO envisions that NewQuay will become both a tourist hotspot and a family-friendly area.

“With the design for the apartment, we have different options for different residents. There are a range of dwelling types catering for families and young professionals,” Mr Mah said.

Mr Mah and Mr Drescher said DKO endeavoured to deliver differentiation to a densely populated area like Docklands.

“Each site should be treated as a unique opportunity with a different clientele and style. We want to move away from the sameness seen at some high-rise residential areas,” he said.

Mr Mah and Mr Drescher said DKO reflected Docklands’ distinctive character in the exterior and interior designs.

The Marina Tower, with two connected towers “splitting ” on the upper levels, provides more solar access to the residents and the interior pays tribute to marine features and uses locally-sourced materials.

“It’s also about balancing that with the rest of the architecture in this area. There’s a bit of repetition of architecture in Docklands and we want to present different offerings,” Mr Drescher said.

Since its arrival in Docklands, DKO Architecture has grown as fast as the developments here.

“We weren’t sure how it was going to turn out at first, but having been here for five years and now having 70 architects working at our office, we all love it here. Docklands has ticked all the boxes,” Mr Mah said.

“There’s so much more potential for Docklands. I think the density is growing in Docklands and that again adds so much more colour to this precinct.”

DKO is also engaging University of Melbourne’s architecture and design students to come up with conceptual designs for the NewQuay West developments and encouraging future architects to delve more into urban renewal areas such as Docklands.

“Nothing is designed and built in a day. Just like any new areas, Docklands takes time to mature and grow,” Mr Mah said.

“Docklands has everything it requires to be a successful place to live in.”

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