In the late 1960s a hotel tower with car parking occupying the first six levels was designed for 223 North Terrace; a prime location on Adelaide’s signature boulevard in its premier cultural and education precinct. The six-storey car parking building went ahead but the hotel was never built.
Three decades later, Tectvs was asked to design an apartment development to be constructed in dramatic fashion on top of the car parking building, doubling its height and scale to create a landmark address. It would feature a mix of top-end and mainstream apartments with unrivalled views over the CBD and parklands to the coast and the Adelaide Hills, and with immediate access to the city’s retail and cultural heart.
Tectvs took a modernist, almost industrial, approach to the design of the primary building forms to reflect the surrounding sea of raw rooftops, plant rooms and maintenance infrastructure hidden from the lower levels of the city. In its execution, the focus was to provide sweeping, uninterrupted views for occupants while achieving a harmonious relationship between the edgy newcomer and its historic North Terrace neighbours, including the State Library, South Australian Museum, Art Gallery of South Australia and the 130-year-old University of Adelaide. The design outcome was a residential complex of 107 apartments in two towers, with leisure facilities - including gym, lap pool, spa and sauna - located on the residential common area at the foot of the buildings.
Its appeal to the marketplace was immediate: 90 percent of the apartments sold off-the-plan in the first stage release in 2003, mostly to owner-occupiers attracted to the location directly behind Rundle Mall, the city's main retail thoroughfare. Construction started in 2003 with the pouring of a transfer slab on the car park roof to supports the weight of the lightweight steel apartment towers. Overall, construction at 223 North Terrace was a legal and logistical challenge.
As the apartment complex was to be built in the “air space” over the existing operational 1400-bay carpark, the developer had to acquire the “air rights” before development could proceed – a first for a major development in South Australia when granted in 2001. Due to the unique context of the project, access and site conditions provided a continuous stream of challenges, all of which, ultimately, were overcome with completion in early 2006.
Overall, 223 North Terrace was a first in both design and ambition for Adelaide.