Photo by Ant Zikas, supplied by Crown Group. Article originally published in The Daily Telegraph by Jonathan Chancellor on 12 September 2020

Natural materials, from timber to waterfalls, are topping the list for high rise developments

The timing is exquisite. Four years in the making, the Waterfall apartment project by Crown Group has been completed with the world’s tallest man-made waterfall in a residential building. The COVID-19 lockdown has certainly focused our attention on city living with amenities, from a health and motivational perspective.

While some suggest the popularity of high rise inner city locations is going to decline given the impact of the pandemic, there’s certainly a heightened wish for apartments that that make an effort when it comes to the mental wellbeing of the occupants.

“The lockdown compels us to rethink and to up the ante from just constructing sustainable buildings to sustainable living when it comes to health and wellness,” said leading Sydney developer Iwan Sunito, the chief of Crown.

Photo by Alex Mayes, supplied by Crown Group

He said science has shown the many health benefits of being close to natural elements.

“Water is considered the elixir and source of life,” he said. “The mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart and induce relaxation.

“The pure relaxation and calmness that takes over you when listening to the sounds of nature such as leaves rustling in the wind or water flowing down a stream is not something that happens randomly.”

His $400 million residential project, Waterfall features 331 apartments plus a retail and dining precinct, which also includes a dog grooming salon. The development was designed by Adam Haddow, of architects SJB, who says the 22m waterfall set amid gardens sets a new benchmark for biophilic design.

It was designed by Waterforms International’s Dirk Slotboom who says it posed complex design challenges including being in a high wind zone, with the need for minimal noise and splash for residents.

The green walls were created by living infrastructure specialists, Junglefy using tropical plants.

Rooftop cinema with Green Wall by Junglefy at Waterfall by Crown Group. Photo by Ant Zikas.

“With cities becoming more urbanised, we design spaces that connect people with nature throughout their daily lives,” Junglefy’s managing director Jock Gammon said.

Sunito said he saw Waterfall as the leading “the urban greening revolution in Australia”.

Crown also identified the positive effects of harnessing the power of timber in their projects.

A Planet Ark study several years ago found that workers are less stressed and more productive, students learn better, patients heal faster, and people are generally happier and calmer in indoor areas which contain wooden elements.

Crown Group’s upcoming development, Mastery by Crown Group, also in Sydney’s Waterloo will see extensive use of timber.

Sunito recalls it was upon meeting architect Kengo Kuma that he thought seriously about that notion that people respond viscerally to natural materials.

“The more you think about it, the more you realise that a thing like a piece of timber is not lifeless, it is full of life,” he said.

The centrepiece apartment block features a plant-filled, green exterior designed to emulate a stacked forest. Kuma has collaborated with local award winning architect Koichi Takada on the project.

“Being in nature makes us feel good, “Takada said.