Woods Bagot has won a national design competition to create a dynamic mixed-use destination on the Gold Coast. Introducing a new icon to the city's skyline, a development application has been lodged with the Gold Coast City Council to build a slender dual tower form that is set to be one of, if not the tallest residential building in Australia.
Working closely with Melbourne-based developer Orion International Group and Gold Coast Development Managers CRA Group, the design solution features two conjoined towers reaching 76 (274m) and 103 levels (328m) respectively that will house a true mix of uses; with food and beverage on the ground floor, a 165-key, five-star hotel and residential apartments and a signature restaurant and observation deck at the apex.
Woods Bagot Director Mark Damant said the design was initiated through strategic place making analysis. "With respect to both the macro (city) scale and the micro (neighbourhood) scale, the design aimed to create layers of experience for residents and guests alike, from the finely-grained daily living places to a super-scaled 'city space' via a series of garden decks, indoor and outdoor pools, fitness, lounge and function areas," Damant stated.
The development provided the opportunity to collaborate closely with the client, delivering the City of Gold Coast an unprecedented urban destination with a distinct local character.
Woods Bagot Principal and Regional Hotel Sector Leader Bronwyn McColl said Orion Towers is a landmark mixed use project that draws upon Woods Bagot's cross-sector expertise in residential, hotel, workplace and retail design, culminating a dynamic, lifestyle-oriented development. "The podium and tower design was driven by user experience leading to a result that is attuned to the way people wish to use space," McColl explained. "Rather than delivering a traditional response, we focused on understanding both the resident and guest experience, developing a typology-pushing precinct informed by the customers' desire for local immersion via a framework that encourages authentic integration with the community."
The design features horizontal gold banding to streamline the facade as it rises into the sky, becoming graduated from the lower floors to emphasize the curvature of the form. The inward-facing tower facades have an articulated geometry that directs the view outwards, designed to increase privacy for residents while creating an aesthetic that offers a distinct design element to the structure.
The ground plane will be punctuated by a dynamic urban village that will provide a sense of legibility and identity at the towers' base. Low level awnings will define the street edges, grounding the monumental and civic scale of the towers and tower base respectively.
A five-storey mixed-use podium will offer active retail zones designed around a sculptural 'urban canyon' surrounded by lush planting and landscaped edges to help soften the base of the tower, with flowering feature trees providing shade and visual amenity to the ground and amenities levels.
Woods Bagot Senior Associate David Lee said the design will balance the tall tower forms with a vibrant ground floor plane of appropriate scale. "We wanted to create a modern, metropolitan oasis in the heart of the Gold Coast," Lee commented. "Achieving a balance in scale and proportion between the towers and the podium, the design focused on activating the street edges at the ground plane and articulating the façade to soften the way the tower base is perceived in the public realm."
The towers are linked at the podium levels by a prominent and elevated curved bridge known as the 'curious ring.' The ring will reinforce the circular geometry of the towers and the form of the urban canyon. Featuring a large LED matrix screen on the underside of the bridge, the ring will display information such as time, weather and community event details. It is anticipated this modern interpretation of the town square clock tower will become a new meeting place for people to gather.
Considering materiality, the upstand on the tower base edges is an important design element that links back to the overall geometry of the tower form. Heavily articulated, sculpted metal plates, strip lighting and exposed concrete finishes create texture and contrast to green edges, visually defining the podium levels from the streetscape.
At the rooftop level, Woods Bagot has proposed the utilization of digital media glass screens to create sculptural crowns which will further enhance the architectural scheme through decorative lighting.