Former school transforming into sustainable living haven
From education to the environment, this Wantirna site has a valuable history and a vibrant future.
The former home of the Wantirna Heights School in Melbourne’s east is set for a revamp as a sustainable living community of 51 new homes.
Kingloch Parade Wantirna will feature a mix of 11 houses, 19 townhouses and 21 terraces, with the site’s heritage and local architecture a key influence on the design, says Krisi Patras, assistant development manager at Oz Property Group.
“The site is a jewel amongst the community and there is pride and reflection on its history,” Patras says.
“We want to make sure that we do something that the community is proud of.
“We’re trying to set a precedent for the area, by making sure that sustainability and the needs of the community are integrated into design from the early stages.”
For many years, the Wantirna Heights School was an important hub of the community. Landscape architect Watkin McLennan of REALM Studios says old signs from the school are incorporated into the design, while time capsules will be built into the pocket park and playground.
“The design of the community hub has harnessed the spirit of the school kid with playful features like a backyard cricket pitch, basketball hoop and nature play zone,” McLennan says.
Looking back even further, McLennan says the landscaping will also draw on the site’s roots as the land of the Wurundjeri and Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation.
“Wantirna means gurgling stream in Woiwurrung language,” he says. “An appreciation for this and the deep history of the place has influenced the site layout and drainage infrastructure.”
This idea will be best seen in the “blue-green spine” – a creek that will run through the centre of the community. It will be lined with diverse native planting, leading towards a trio of long-standing blue gum trees that will provide shade over community BBQs, playgrounds and seating areas.
Further inspiration for Kingloch Parade has come from Wantirna’s mid-century-style homes, which were largely built during a rapid expansion of Melbourne in the 1960s and 70s.
Patras says Oz Property Group consulted with locals who said they wanted the development to fit in with this look.
“People really didn’t want to see masses of the same building — they wanted to feel like it fits into the wider context of the area,” she says.
Designed by DKO Architecture, the homes will draw on the mid-century’s predominant use of brick, natural light and landscape. A variety of floor plans and rooflines is designed to cater for different purchaser needs, now and in the future .
“There’s a lot of qualities in mid-century architecture that people keep coming back to. There is an appreciation of design aesthetic and function,” Patras says.
While history is important to the development, future sustainability is also front of mind. Every home will fossil fuel free featuring optimised façades and glazing, for effective heating and cooling, natural ventilation as well as individual solar panels for green energy.
“People can up size their solar systems with batteries and put in infrastructure for electric vehicle charging,” Patras says. “It gives the purchaser a lot of control of their own sustainability measures.”
Water recycling will be made easy thanks to a series of ‘swales’ that runs beneath the development, designed for catching rainwater runoff. The water can then be used for the trees and communal veggie garden, which features smart waste collection and composting.
“Our internal roads will be designed as shared paths to encourage a sense of play with in the neighbourhood,” Patras says.
Something for everyone
Anne Flaherty, economist at realestate.com.au, says Kingloch Parade’s mix of housing types and heritage will appeal to various buyers from first home buyers to families and local downsizers.
“Wantirna has lots of green spaces, there are schools in the area and transport is well serviced. Box Hill is nearby which is a major commercial hub and Westfield Knox is really close,” she says.
Flaherty says Wantirna house prices have risen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with a median sale price of $1,001,500 in the year to the end of June 2021, up 10.05% on the previous year.
But buyer interest continues to soar.
“Wantirna had a 61.75% increase in views-per-listing (on realestate.com.au) in the six months to the end of June 2021, versus the prior six months,” she says.
Flaherty expects the sustainability focus of Kingloch Parade will add to the appeal, particularly as the REA Energy Efficiency Housing Report of June 2021 found that nearly 80% of buyers consider energy efficiency to be extremely important or important in a new home.
The research shows buyers are particularly keen on solar power, energy efficient lighting, air flow and insulation – meaning Kingloch Parade will tick a lot of boxes for sustainability-minded buyers.
“Our research also shows that for 84% of people, the number one reason they care about energy efficiency is to reduce their energy bills,” Flaherty says. “But other key reasons are doing good for the environment, being environmentally conscious and reducing carbon emissions.”
Pictures are courtesy of Oz Property Group.
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