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Democratising the rooftops as high-rise penthouses become passe

Property Observer

Property Observer
6th December 2012

The rooftop of early apartment complexes were once home to a simple dreary washing line, but now what’s on the rooftop is almost as important as what is in the newly completed apartment.

All residents in many new high rises are entitled to access rooftops in a trend towards democratisation of the previously sealed off upper levels.

Central South Yarra – a $220 million 30-storey development by Little Projects in South Yarra – is among four apartment complexes that incorporate resort-style resident rooftop access.

The large landscaped outdoor sky terrace is 30 storeys up, offering residents and their guests a 360-degree view across Melbourne.

The rooftop includes an inside dining room on a first-in, first served basis with a 10-seater dining table and kitchen. There’s also a lounge, pool and a ‘wellbeing zone’ with fitness equipment.

Michael Fox, managing director of Little Property Group, says the rooftop trend stems from tenants, and their landlord investors, seeking low-maintenance recreational living options.

“They want to enjoy the outdoor scenario,” says Fox.

Fox says the additional recreation space adds to the value of all apartments, despite the loss of revenue from sale of the top floor or rooftop.

“Essentially, it’s an extension of their apartment. Residents are happy to live in smaller spaces but have other facilities at their fingertips so they can entertain their guests in an open and unique environment.”

“The philosophy behind it all is offering purchases lifestyle benefits,” says Fox.

The nearby Yarra House in South Yarra is a boutique apartment development with a “members-only” 15-metre rooftop lap pool, gym and landscaped garden on level 26.

It offers views of the surrounds of the historic Melbourne High School, the city skyline and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Montrose in North Sydney comprises of 104 apartments over 10 levels with occupants having access to a rooftop cinema.

Curtis Field, director of project marketing at Colliers International, which is marking Montrose, tells Property Observer a rooftop cinema is fairly unusual for an apartment project in Sydney, with the trend starting in Melbourne’s entertainment district retail terraces.

He says the cinema was included in the design to appeal to younger couples and singles who are expected to show interest in Montrose, and he says it will “add some vibrancy” to the project.

The cinema is made to feel like a home cinema and can be booked through the body corporate.

Field says apartments are getting smaller and therefore residents are use the rooftops as common areas for entertaining.

“It offers added value of views and amenities that they [residents] don’t have to pay for.”

Montrose is almost 50% sold.

Of course the common facilities not necessarily have to induce vertigo.

In Sydney, Payce’s Victoria Park project Platinum has its has a 2,000-square-metre podium courtyard that is located one level above the street.

The courtyard contains Asian-inspired black bamboo planting to create multi-storey green screens and a pathway to meander through the bamboo.

Intimate pavilions are built from timber and framed steel and are illuminated at night.

There is also an alfresco entertainment area with hanging gardens, storage and a kitchen.

Rooftop trees and plants can clear the air by absorbing toxins such as benzene from the atmosphere.

The landscaping can also intercept between 70% and 90% of incoming solar radiation to aid temperature control.

One mature tree potentially provides nearly as much cooling as five 3-kilowatt air-conditioners, while in winter it helps keep apartments insulated.

The rooftop trend comes as the health-giving benefits of parklands are being acknowledged.

The Western Australian Department of Environment and Conversation (DEC) has established the national “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” program.

The DEC believes parkland is fundamental to people’s health and reduces urban stress as well as boosting immunity to certain health issues.

Parkland and community spaces also allow for a more balanced lifestyle, providing opportunities to socialise and may boost immunity to certain health issues.

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