Nonda Katsalidis, founding partner of renowned architecture firm Fender Katsalidis, is celebrated for illuminating Melbourne’s skyline with iconic Australian buildings such as the Eureka Tower and more recently Australia 108.
In this Q&A he talks about his latest waterfront development on Melbourne’s Yarra North Shore, Seafarers, and how it embodies a new era of luxury apartment living as Australia’s first 1 Hotel and Melbourne’s first hotel branded residence.
According to available marketing information, designed by Riverlee in collaboration with prestigious firms including Fender Katsalidis, Oculus, Carr and One Design Office, the $550 million Seafarers project focuses on an inspired redesign of heritage listed Goods Shed #5 and will offer a limited collection of 120 branded residences and 277 guest rooms as part of Australia’s first 1 hotel.
What was unique about Seafarers compared to other projects you have designed and where did the inspiration come from?
There were two things that told me it had the makings of something special. A lot of heritage conservation work was done on the goods shed and Malcolm Moore crane to make this project a success and I’m a big fan of keeping our industrial heritage alive and these sturdy, interesting artefacts from Melbourne’s old shipyard to commemorate.
Second, it was the huge facade on the Yarra. The industrial aspect is relevant in the way we incorporated the sheds into the new design, but we really tried to honor the location and natural history of the site as well. We designed the residential buildings to have a playful facade that appears to have waves on the surface. They relate to how the wind interacts
With the water surface of the nearby river and the adjacent landscape area, it is an interesting place.
What drew you to the Seafarers project?
Finding great project partners and working with people you trust is crucial and I found that in Riverlee. I really enjoy my interaction with them and they enjoy working with me so I have looked after many of their housing projects over the last ten years which is great.
Seafarers will be Melbourne’s first international hotel brand. What interests you?
I stayed at 1 hotel near Central Park in New York and visited another one in Brooklyn. They’re really fun hotels with grainy, gritty interiors that use a lot of different materials and that was a big factor in being part of the project. I love the idea of the hotel being integrated into the residence. Residential buildings have a limited number of facilities that you can set up, such as swimming pools, gyms, theaters and maybe some restaurants, but you won’t get the level of service that a hotel offers. In that sense, Seafarers is a rarity and I think it represents the future of luxury apartment living.
Seafarers is situated in a historical place. What do you think the future of the North Bank District looks like?
Seafarers are being built on one of the last lots in the precinct, but I think the hotel will be an anchor for the entire North Shore. With a hotel comes restaurants and bars and the general public, so it just feels more alive and connected.
As the design consortium notes, “This new district not only revitalizes the waterfront — it gives it back to the community for all Melburnians to visit and enjoy.”