Gone are the days of the quarter acre block; with occupancy rates rising nationally, led by 85 per cent plus levels in Sydney and Melbourne, new apartment building developments are increasingly seen as a financially attractive proposition. The past five years have seen several Australian capital cities experiencing an apartment-led construction boom; indeed, in August 2016 Australia experienced its biggest construction boom since the late 1980s. Precast concrete is playing a role in many of these new developments.
Precast concrete elements manufactured by Euro Precast were used extensively in Melbourne’s Pumphouse Apartments.
Despite being white, precast was ideal for Trinity Hill’s façade because it is maintenance free and requires no paint or render.
INNOVATING THE BUILDING PROCESS
Traditionally seen as the ideal material for bridges or walls in industrial complexes, precast concrete is increasingly being used in new medium density housing developments.
Precast concrete is ideally suited to medium density residential construction, as it transforms the building process by moving work offsite and into a controlled factory environment. This allows a manufacturing process that’s concurrent with site works. Manufacturing is controlled at every step of the way, guaranteeing on time and reliable supply.
LUXURY NOT FORGOTTEN
With medium density housing booming, developers, investors, and operators are smartening up when it comes to delivering luxurious residential living that matches the needs of a buyer’s market. The Alex residential apartment development in Sydney is one example of this trend towards higher end construction. It’s regarded as a jewel of luxury in the inner-city suburb of Alexandria, with precast concrete seizing the limelight in its architectural vision.
HOSPITALITY FOLLOWING SUIT
The construction boom isn’t limited to residential developments. In Perth’s CBD, two new hotels have opened. With each rising to 17 storeys, they mark the tallest prefabricated hotels in Australia, with The Peppers King Square hotels featuring precast concrete panels, pre-attached façades, and modular bathrooms.
SUSTAINABLE SOCIAL HOUSING
A structure using precast concrete elements provides a range of benefits for social housing. As part of its commitment to providing quality and sustainable services for people on low incomes who are, or may become, homeless, the Tasmanian Government redeveloped the former Adult Education Learning site in North Hobart, known as Trinity Hill. Precast concrete walling manufactured by Duggans Precast was specified for the four-storey facility and offers a façade that is maintenance-free and requires no paint or render.
In Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, there are some signs of an oversupply of apartments; in Sydney, however, there still appears to be an under-supplied unit market. So, while the inner city housing boom has met or surpassed market demands, the recent decline in building approvals suggests that the boom is approaching its peak and will soon start to settle before declining by the end of 2017. Governments around the country are bracing themselves for the inevitable end of the boom, which has been one of the main supporters of the economy since mining has declined. It’s important to remember here the delay between building approvals and completions.
Beyond the current boom, it’s probable that precast concrete will have an integral role to play in the future of residential and commercial construction. In many cities throughout Australia, what once may have been functional, yet unattractive high density social living complexes are now highly aesthetically-pleasing and creative medium density living quarters, with many featuring precast concrete elements – whether they be façades, flooring, or structural load-bearing elements. ■