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Newcastle's horizon is set to be transformed by a new mixed-use development, a project that will help reshape the West End into the city's most highly sought-after neighbourhood.
Conceptualised by award-winning property development company Third.i, the part residential part business complex will be positioned on the iconic Dairy Farmers Corner, a site that was once home to one of Australia's largest dairy producers.
"As an architect, you design for the present," acclaimed British architect Norman Foster once said, "with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown."
The proposed Dairy Farmers Towers project will be developed as such, paying homage to the rich history that is felt on the corner of Tudor and Hannell streets.
As confirmed by Third.i Director Luke Berry, the metamorphosis of the West End site will revitalise the neighbourhood with new energy, creating a new community via the conscious construction of 184 one to four-bedrooms apartments across two lofty towers.
The soaring structure, one of the tallest in the city, has been oriented to provide future residents with unparalleled views of Newcastle and its beaches.
"Residents will have the best views in town," Mr Berry said. "As well as the harbour, entertainment, and transport options all on their doorsteps."
In addition to their proximity to the best of Newcastle's West End, the Towers will also offer residents far more than just the keys to new apartments.
So as to foster a greater sense of community, a feeling that is sometimes missing from modern urban developments, Third.i plans to incorporate communal green spaces, as well as shared facilities such as a gym, a cabana pool area complete with lap pool, a wine bar and cellar, and function rooms.
Perhaps one of the development's most modern offerings, however, will be its acknowledgement of contemporary ways of living.
So as to accommodate the ever-increasing reality of hybrid working, Third.i plans to design a shared working hub within the Tower's commercial space, so that residents can work from their home addresses without being confined to their apartments.
"It's an exciting prospect to give someone the ability to own an apartment and also run a small business from the same site without compromising their living environment," Mr Berry said.
It is believed that the idea is a first for Newcastle city, but given the rising number of local residents adopting more flexible ways of working, it is a concept that will surely cater to the desires of many.
"There continues to be a massive shift in businesses attitudes about allowing staff to work from home, so we wanted to create a flexible work environment within the Towers that supports this, without compromising precious sqm within our residents' homes," he said.
While there are many benefits of being at the office in the living room, so to speak, studies show that loneliness and lack of focus can impact those who work in the absence of others.
By rethinking the design of the Towers through the lens of future hybrid-working residents, Third.i thus committed themselves to creating co-working spaces in place of in-home studies, directly addressing the growing need for places where people can gather to collaborate while working remotely, to feel less apart.
This dedication to the development of not only buildings, but also of better ways to strike a work life balance, has led Third.i on a journey towards constructing a complex that will enhance the West End's sense of community. A goal that, in itself, honours those who once made life-long memories while working together at Dairy Farmers Corner.
Known to locals as the former headquarters of the Dairy Farmers Co-operative Milk Co. Limited, the site was first established in 1939, and used for receiving, bottling and distributing milk until 1991.
Reflecting its function, the original building's distinct faade featured an enormous milk bottle formed out of glass bricks relieved with coloured terracotta panels, a quirky characteristic that became much loved amongst the community.
To honour this history, Third.i will re-imagine the heritage-listed, iconic glass milk bottle, as well as the original building's clock towers, as part of a broader public art installation.
"Locals affectionately know the site as Dairy Farmers Corner," Mr Berry said. "And that history will live on."
The attention to detail paid to this project is, in part, due to the relationship Third.i has already established with the Newcastle community. The Dairy Farmers Towers project is the fourth West End project for the company.
The Sydney-based firm has already completed WEST Apartments, Eaton on Union, and Stella on Hannell, three developments that have, combined, created 381 contemporary city homes for local residents.
For their Dairy Farmers Towers project, Third.i will collaborate with leading local architectural firm CKDS, whose design inspiration for the rhombus shaped site is said to have come from its previous life as a milk co-op.
According to CKDS Architecture Senior Associate Joel Chamberlain, the design concept is underpinned by the creation of a quality public domain that draws inspiration from the heritage of the site and the evolving skyline of Newcastle's urban renewal.
"Dairy Farmers Corner is an iconic landmark that holds an important social significance within the Novocastrian psyche. Our proposal aims to reconnect the public with heritage through a highly pedestrianised ground plane and the incorporation of interpretive public art and landscape," Mr Chamberlain said.
Anchored in an awareness of the past and designed for a future which may be vastly different to anything we have known, the Dairy Farmers Towers project will help to actualise the vision of West End as not only a place to visit, but as Newcastle's place to be.
As the city continues to remain high on the radar of Australians looking to relocate to up-and-coming postcodes, the Towers and their surrounds will provide just another reason to call Newcastle home.
With the conscious redevelopment of Dairy Farmers Corner, in the words of Mr Berry, a landmark will be reborn to create a new chapter in the West End's growth.
"We want Dairy Farmers Towers to be a West End icon," Mr Berry said.
With plans to be completed by late 2024, locals and investors may need to be patient before observing visible progress on the Newcastle horizon. But from all we've heard so far, the Dairy Farmers Towers development by Third.i will certainly be worth waiting for.