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West Side Story

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When the Giorgi team transposed the style of a high-end home into a high-end apartment, they designed an innovative penthouse that won the national Apartment of the Year award. 

Housing author

Annie Reid

At the gateway to South Perth, proudly perched on the Swan River foreshore, the Echelon Residences is making its mark – and living up to its name. 

High up on the eighth floor, the penthouse on top won the prestigious 2021 HIA-CSR Australian Apartment of the Year award, built by Giorgi. For Danny Giorgi, the firm’s sales and managing director, the success is not just a recognition for excellent design and construction outcomes but a broader ambition to pioneer luxury. 

‘This project is something you can never replicate, right at the gateway of South Perth. We knew there was a genuine market there for a high-end product in a sought-after location, so it was all of those things coming together,’ he says. 

The winning apartment showcases three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a dual living area and a gourmet kitchen. The breathtaking panoramic views over the Swan River and city skyline can be seen from multiple vantage points and expansive balconies. The entire space, which is around 330 square metres, echo house-like proportions.

With these ultra-private luxurious apartments from $4 million, they were all snapped up quickly by downsizers from large family homes. ‘I think people realise the apartment option is viable, but they don’t want to compromise. We’ve basically transferred that ethos from a high-end home into a high-end apartment,’ Danny says.

Meticulous quality control means everything when building at this level. So the initial site acquisition, concept and design through to architecture, engineering and completion is all managed in-house. As for construction, Danny engaged tilers, painters and other sub-contractors to work on solely one or two levels, rather than commission one company for the entire build.

‘This meant we could maintain a level of quality through the whole building. It also enabled the guys to do what they do best without overloading them with too much work,’ he says. 

From the outset, the key challenge was building on top of a water table and eliminating the movement of water through the site.

‘Basically, we used a product that was injected into the soil to hold the water back while undertaking escalation works,’ Danny explains.

He had discovered the compound product manufactured in the Netherlands. After completing successful soil tests, the compound product was used while the massive hole was dug and the soil removed. Here, the contiguous piles were established from boundary to boundary and during the rough slabbing for the two levels of basement flooring. This took place while contending with two highways in close proximity and buildings smack bang on the boundary.

 
‘It was a complex job,’ he says. ‘For the 24-month process it took to build the structure, it took us eight months just to get out of the ground.’ 

From there, the build was straightforward with precast floors, and wall panels made offsite, then brought in, craned up and assembled like a jigsaw puzzle – one floor every 10 days. 

The building is broken up through the middle and angled further towards the city on one side to maximise the views. Privacy walls between each apartment enable residents to see the city from their balconies without any structural obstruction. To be taller than its neighbours, the structure’s eight-storey height had to be approved by the local council. They needed to ensure any building on such a prominent suite would stand the test of time. ‘In the end, they were happy with the finished product, which is fantastic,’ Danny says.

Inside, there’s no foyer, airlock or passage upon entry. Residents simply park their car and head straight up the private lift that opens directly into the apartment. The design allows ‘wasted’ space to be better utilised within the floor plan. This space is then redirected to expansive zones, starting with soaring four-metre ceilings throughout the living, dining and balcony areas.

‘There’s a real quality of space. The penthouse flows from front to back, and the natural light is immense, along with the glazing,’ he says. Cross-flow ventilation is also crucial, enabling each apartment and level to open up from front to back and north to south. 

‘We tried to limit the heat loads in the afternoon here, so we put the east-facing windows on the other side for when the sun comes up,’ says Danny.  

Natural stone is used on the flooring, complemented by natural timber veneers for the cabinetry. A standout is an architectural band on the balcony. Designed to bring down the proportions of the balcony height and accentuate a lower-level horizontal plane, it creates an impressive ‘picture frame’ for residents to enjoy the scenic views. ‘It’s an architecture piece that frames the city, an added benefit from an internal perspective,’ Danny says.  

Now, two years since completion, the Echelon Residences stands tall along the river exactly as Danny and his team first envisaged. Giorgi is pioneering a new standard in luxury for South Perth, and the recent awards prove that the buyers, residents, industry professionals and HIA judges agree. 

www.giorgi.co

 

Award

2021 HIA Apartment of the Year

Builder

Giorgi

Location

South Perth

Materials

  • Flooring: 600mm x 600mm stone travertine flooring for living areas, alfresco area and ensuites/powder rooms
  • Walls: Flush plasterboard lined concrete or insulated stud walls; combination of timber veneer and lacquer cabinetwork with reconstituted stone benchtops 
  • Ceiling: Flush plasterboard suspended ceilings
  • Doors: Timber veneer cavity sliding doors for ensuite 1 
  • Kitchen: Miele appliances; Billi boiling/chilled water tap
  • Bathroom: Freestanding and twin-feature vanity basins bath from Reece.