Nonda Katsalidis reflects on her love of post-industrial urban design

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Nonda Katsalidis, founding partner of renowned architecture firm Fender Katsalidis, is famous for lighting up the Melbourne city skyline with iconic Australian buildings, including the Eureka Tower and, more recently, Australia 108.

In this Q&A, he discusses his latest waterfront project on Melbourne’s Yarra North Shore, Seafarers, and how it embodies a new era of luxury apartments as Australia’s first 1 hotel and premier residence. Melbourne hotel brand.

According to available marketing information, designed by Riverlee in conjunction with renowned companies including Fender Katsalidis, Oculus, Carr and One Design Office, the $550 million Seafarers project centers around a Goods Shed No.5-inspired reimagining and will feature a limited collection of 120 branded residences and 277 rooms as part of Australia’s first 1 hotel.

How was Seafarers unique from other projects you’ve done, and where did the inspiration come from?

There were two things that told me he had the makings of something special. A lot of heritage preservation work has been done on the Goods Shed and the Malcolm Moore Crane to make this project a success, and I’m a big fan of preserving our industrial heritage and commemorating these tough and interesting artifacts from the old Melbourne wharf.

Second was the huge frontage on the Yarra. The industrial aspect is relevant in the way we incorporated the hangars into the new design, but we really tried to honor the location and the natural history of the site too. We designed the residential buildings to have a playful facade that appears to have ripples on the surface. They refer to how the wind interacts

with the surface of the water on the nearby river, and with the landscaped area adjacent to it, it is an interesting site.

What attracted you to the Seafarers project?

Finding great project partners and working with people you trust is key, and I found that at Riverlee. I very much enjoy my interaction with them and they enjoy working with me, so over the past decade I have taken on many of their residential projects which is great.

Seafarers will be Melbourne’s first international residential hotel. What interests you in that?

I stayed at 1 Hotel near Central Park in New York and visited another in Brooklyn. They’re really fun hotels, with gritty, gritty interiors that use lots of different materials, and that was a huge factor in getting involved with the project. I love the idea that the hotel is integrated into the residence. In residential buildings, there are only a limited number of facilities you can install, such as swimming pools, gymnasiums, theaters and maybe restaurants, but you won’t get the service that a hotel offers. In that sense, Seafarers is a rarity and I believe it represents the future of luxury apartment living.

Seafarers is located on a historic site. What do you think is the future of the North Bank district?

Sailors will be built on one of the last sites in the compound, but I believe the hotel will be an anchor point for the entire north shore. With a hotel comes restaurants and bars and the general public, so it will feel more vibrant and connected.

As the design consortium notes, “this new neighborhood does more than revitalize the waterfront – it returns it to the community, for all Melburnians to visit and enjoy”.

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