by Laura Kebby
Driven by excellence, an emerging trend in apartment living is all about offering resort style accommodation combined with the intimate touches of home. Situated on one of the Gold Coast’s most exclusive beachfront locations, the Burleigh Heads Natura apartments offer uninterrupted ocean views, and an unrivaled level of sophistication, but with home at the heart of the design. We spoke to Design Manager Kent Pinel from Spyre Group about why Natura is truly the epitome of coastal sophistication.
The Burleigh Heads Natura apartments is such a phenomenal project, can you tell us a little bit about your role?
My background is in architecture, but I made the move into property development, and now work as Design Manager coordinating the design team as a part of Spyre Group. My drivers around design are to ensure that every project achieves the highest quality design outputs, by bringing all of the strong ideas together. Whilst I have a design influence, I also rely on our trusted consultants to pull the packages together, and my connection with Earp Bros comes from demanding high-quality products, which is how we ended up working together on the Natura apartments.
When you’re approaching a project like the Natura apartments, what does the beginning of that process look like?
This project really resonates with its location. So, in the case of the Natura apartments, the beachfront at Burleigh is probably the most sought-after location on the Gold Coast, and that leads into the design outcomes for the project. It all comes from the first principles of design. We look at the context, the local setting, and the quality of the location, and consider what would be an apt insertion in that environment. In this instance, the Burleigh beachfront demanded a refined and sophisticated palette and form, and that was the initial design driver for Natura.
When considering the finished project, it’s very clear that the beautiful natural elements of Burleigh Heads had such a weighted influence on the overall design, was that your driving intention?
Absolutely, it was so important to us to offer the residents a space that was complementary to the quality of the natural environment. This was an elevated ocean aspect apartment, with an open pool deck, and a wellness centre which would all work to showcase one of the best beaches on the Southern Hemisphere right at their front door. So we had to make that work together. You want to make sure that you’re not taking away from the quality of the beach so we needed to offer something different. For example, our pool is very much an experiential space with scalloped edges, seating, and reflexology - which is a shallow pool area where you can just sit and bathe. With Natura, you’ve got one of the best beaches in the world at your front door and with this in mind we needed to be able to offer something to the residents to be able to step back and overlook that even when they don’t feel like being in that public space. So it’s private and elevated and a really beautiful space to be.
Were there any challenges in terms of trying to capitalise on that beautiful environment but also simultaneously understanding that a residential space requires a large element of privacy?
Absolutely. That line of inquiry really influenced the location of the common area. A beautiful pallet of materials, lifted up above the street level. You still have that privacy whilst maintaining that connection with the public realm and it still overlooks the esplanade so you have a sense of connection. But at the same time, the space provides you with the ability to be elevated away from being seen if you so choose. There’s this beautiful sense of seclusion inside a pristine space.
You were presented with so many opportunities with the Natura apartments, was there anything in particular that stood out as being really unique to this particular project?
It’s a really strong design-lead project. We offer two apartments per level, and there’s no compromise in the design plate. Every apartment all the way up the tower is consistent because we’ve refined that floor plan to what we see as the ideal setting for the environment. Typically, when you enter an apartment building, especially multires apartments, you enter straight into living areas or into the open-plan living space, whereas at Natura we’ve actually created a space at the arrival into a semiprivate sun lounge area, which takes in the vistas of the Burleigh headlands. There’s a large headland to the south, and the small headland to the north, so you’re able to take all of that in, all before you enter the living areas of the apartments.
Wall / Haifu White Porcelain Mosaic
When you arrive in a room beautifully adorned with finishes that overlooks an external vertical garden with hanging plants and full height glazing, it’s a really unique insertion for apartment living to have that sort of space as your arrival experience.
The whole space just has this beautiful natural flow and feel to it all...
Absolutely! Subtle, natural materials are probably the strongest driver for our materiality and we’ve transferred that across the entire design. From the arrival experience on the ground floor we’ve got natural products all the way to the lobby and even inside the lifts. The flooring for the elevators in the building is natural stone. When you arrive in your apartment, you come back into this sunroom space with large format natural stone and the beautiful large format porcelain floor, while overlooking this beautiful vertical garden on the outside of the building.
With your desire to use all these beautiful natural materials, did you face anything particularly challenging throughout the project?
The challenge for us was whenever we wanted to apply a material, we really wanted to apply it holistically, starting with travertine and beautiful glazed mosaic tiles in the bathrooms. In the master en suite, we elaborately used glazed mosaic tiles, which are a very expensive high-end product. What we didn’t want to do, however, was just apply them as a feature tile; we really wanted to apply them throughout. The overall result of the space is so much more of a resort feel than an apartment, with curved walls of glazed mosaics right through into the shower, the en suite and the vanities, and with natural stone as the feature behind the freestanding bath. The challenge with these particular elements, however, was for the developer to commit to the extent of finishes that we wanted, using such high-end specifications rarely seen in project developments.
Typical apartments will use a splash or a feature of material, but we wanted to holistically apply these materials. If we were going to use travertine and glazed mosaics, we wanted to apply them liberally and to the extent that would be expected of the experience we were after. So that’s really that luxury resort-feel that we were trying to achieve, especially in those bathroom and wet areas where the extent of the tiles and materials typically wouldn’t extend as far as what we chose to do. So that was the challenge, to balance the project costs with the allocation of materials.
Does that make this particular project unique, especially with the way you’ve used those materials?
Absolutely it is. The project itself doesn’t rely on feature elements, it’s about a consistent palette across the entire apartment. The large-format porcelain flooring continues across the entire floor plate and into the wet areas. In the living room, we’ve used large-format porcelain on our cabinetry as well as natural stone for the island bench and master en suite vanities, and the natural travertine is found throughout the apartment as well. It’s definitely a project that is the exception to the standard when it comes to materials.
Let’s talk about the pool… it’s magnificent, to say the least! Can you tell me about the surface materials you used both in the pool and surrounds?
It goes back to the natural material driver of the project. When you enter the pool deck space, you are in a beautiful, natural travertine environment and the flooring and the walls are clad in natural stone. The pool itself is designed as a bit of a gem in that space. It’s fully lined with glass mosaics, specifically the Bali Stone tile, and there’s a variant between the levels of the pool. In the shallow area, which we call the reflexology space, the material works really well. It’s so textual and the small glazed mosaics have such a nice feel to them when you’re sitting and lounging in that space, as well as the look you get from swimming laps or recreationally using the pool.
The scalloped edges also exemplify that. We utilised that scalloped shape, which is driven from the coastline setting and the ebbs and flows of the coastline in the edging of the pool, which actually complements but inverts the design of the tower as well. Where the pool comes in and under the residential tower, the tower itself has the opposing scallops so it all starts to work together in that space. We also wanted the look and feel of the natural timber deck in the pool space but we were really drawn to the natural quality, durability, and look and feel of the Starwood product for the deck. It works really well in that space and adds an element that is natural in its look, but provides the quality that we’re after for a durable and fit-to-purpose installation beside the pool deck.
It’s just so much more than pure functionality with such luxury at the heart of the design, everything about the pool area is so natural…
Absolutely and I think the landscape is also extremely important to this project as well. Right from the start of the design, landscape was key. We wanted to make a really tranquil and rich setting, especially for that common area level. The landscaping is quite dense and so is the frontage to the esplanade, but it also hangs down from the vertical garden and that works really well against the anodised cladding, which is around the perimeter. The landscaping also works naturally with the travertine and those greens really bring out the richness of the pool colour. All of those together really make this a luxurious getaway-type space.
The age-old phrase of ‘from where you’d rather be’ really springs to mind when you think about the Natura apartments…
The brilliance of that is to have a resort feel but the added benefit of being in a private residential setting. It was about that look and feel but also taking it to the next level by being a private space unencumbered by your traditional resort furnishing.
What was it like to work with Earp Bros on this particular project?
Fantastic! Always wanted to get the best project that we can so we worked really closely with the Brisbane studio to test and refine each of the selections. The group are always on hand to answer any questions and provide as much information as possible on each of the products. Spyre Group are also thorough in their selections. We took samples from the showroom and tried to really scratch them out the back of our office, just to understand what we were getting and to test them against competitors’ products. We took it to great extents to make sure we were promoting the best product we could.