Levels of luxury

A tower of glistening glass and the opulent oasis within and above, took out two national awards at this year’s HIA–CSR Australian Housing Awards.


Sarah O'Donovan

Brisbane is known for its beaches and balmy weather, but the CBD also boasts a unique collection of heritage buildings, riverside botanical gardens and contemporary urban precincts. This iconic juxtaposition of city and surf characterises the housing industry across the Queensland capital, with abodes designed to make the most of the year-round tropical atmosphere while providing the innovative and convenient features city living demands.

A new addition to the city skyline, Oxley + Stirling glistens with metallic hues of green and gold, transforming under the sunlight as it hits the building at different angles. The apartment complex stands tall over the famous Brisbane River, overlooking, among other magnificent sights, the area dubbed Gardens Point which encompasses Old Government House, Riverstage and Brisbane City Botanic Gardens.
Impressively, almost every apartment in the complex enjoys a view of the river, the expansive city skyline or parklands. This luxury is afforded, in part, by the nature of the site, but it was ingenuity in design that ensured the tower took full advantage of the abundant scenic opportunities. The layers of curved balconies allow for more flexibility than a two-dimensional facade, with balconies on the building’s sides cantilevered to maximise light and views. 
It was this aspect of the selected design that stood out most to Aria Property Group development director Michael Hurley when the property development group ran a design competition, inviting architects from around the country to submit a proposal for the site: ‘Instead of having five units on the front of the building that would typically get the river and city views, the architect came up with a design in which 11 of the 15 units [per floor] got river and/or city views,’ he says.
Another impressive aspect of the winning design was the innovative features, including double-glazed, low-e coated curved glass, which had rarely, if ever, been used before in Australia. 
With firms competing to work with the property developer, and plans hand-picked from the best of the best, it’s hardly a surprise that Aria’s properties are continually setting a new standard in aesthetics and innovation.
But even among Aria’s portfolio, the group’s flagship development Oxley + Stirling is a standout, as was evident at the 2019 HIA–CSR Australian Housing Awards when the project was announced as the winner of two national accolades. In addition to winning 2019 HIA Australian Apartment Complex (partnered by Beacon Lighting Commercial), the rooftop oasis attracted the title of Australian Outdoor Project (partnered by James Hardie). 

The sky-high entertainment area is a truly jaw-dropping space. Embellished with lush greenery, the area accommodates for groups of varying sizes with private sunken lounges dispersed around a reflection pond and stepping stones which lead to the viewing deck. 

‘We call it the residence rooftop club,’ Michael says. ‘It’s a real “wow” moment when you exit the elevator and look out, there’s nothing but you, the CBD, and both stretches of the river.’ And judges onsite concurred, saying it afforded ‘the best view of the riverbank’.
The rooftop terrace is surrounded by a grassy lower level, sunken further below the lounges for a triple-tiered effect, with bean bags and deck chairs dispersed around the perimeter to create ample space and private areas for small groups even on the busier days. The terrace also boasts a fully-equipped gym and 25-metre heated infinity pool for fitness enthusiasts, while an outdoor dining and barbeque area, private dining room and private theatre room make for excellent night-time entertaining. 

The apartment complex places a particular emphasis on fostering social opportunities, with spaces and facilities that apartment-dwellers aren’t typically privy to. ‘Aria created all these really special spaces,’ judges said of the wine cellar, where residents host a regular poker night, the library and the hotel-like lobby and of the large formal dining room with private balcony, which comes with the option of a professional chef and waitstaff. The judges added: ‘The residents don’t have these features in their own apartments, so they have these communal areas to share with their neighbours and friends.’

Aria Property Group seems to possess an innate understanding of what is most important to homeowners with an ability to execute that vision through centrally-located and affordable abodes. ‘We have an attainable owner-occupier luxury focus, with $450,000–$850,000 as the main price point, but we’ll also do penthouses in the millions and one-bedrooms that investors and first home buyers can afford,’ Michael says. ‘We can’t have an entry point that cuts out 95 per cent of the market.’
So how does this level of luxury come at an affordable price? Product selection seems to be the key. Michael says that a part of his job as ‘the chef mixing the ingredients together’ is finding the sweet spot of location, architecture and high-quality, reasonably-priced materials and products. 

‘We never roll the dice with non-established products that haven’t been tested for use in Australia and don’t have a track record,’ he says. ‘You could practically substitute out everything in the world these days with something that’s cheaper but we’re not about that.’

This precedence for quality runs deep in the veins of the business. 

‘We want to create developments that we’ll be proud to walk our families past for decades to come,’ Michael says. ‘So with that as our goal, every single product we use, every single decision we make is with a 30-year lifespan in mind.’
Michael, who has been with Aria ‘since day one and forever’ says the company’s overarching vision is to be the best developer in Australia, and winning two national awards sets the team in good stead. 

‘It’s certainly not a title that you can give yourself, it’s something that the industry body and the people that make up the industry define with what they believe are the best projects or exemplar developments in the country,’ he says.

‘When we get recognised as having developments that are considered in the eyes of our peers as the best development in the respective category for the year it’s a great and humbling acknowledgement.’

Oxley + Stirling at a glance

Architect: Elenberg Fraser
Location: South Brisbane
Awards: 2019 HIA Australian Apartment Complex
2019 HIA Australian Outdoor Project
  • Bespoke mould external precast: Austral Precast
  • Low-e double glazing: TCG
  • Reconstituted stone: Caesarstone
  • Textured laminate: Laminex
  • Tapware: Abey
  • Cooking: ilve

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