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Putting the jungle into concrete jungle

14 Nov 2011

Putting the jungle into concrete jungle Image

Nobody thinks of lush green gardens when they see the high-rise apartment buildings that populate much of Southbank.

But look a little closer and you will find these buildings are not always as sterile and grey as they appear.

Freshwater Place is a prime example. From below it appears to be wall-to-wall apartments with little outdoor space for any of its 1000 residents.

Despite appearances, on level 10 there is an unbelievable half-acre open garden and outdoor entertaining area.

Building manager David McGlashen knows the locals love the vastness of their outdoor getaway, saying: “They really enjoy living in the apartments, but then also being able to walk barefoot on grass at home. It’s like having your own backyard.”

It is also a great attraction for potential residents: “When people are looking at the building to rent or purchase an apartment, they get to level 10 and are shocked, they think it’s tremendous,” Mr McGlashen said.

Mr McGlashen said there were issues with the garden however, with most of the struggles around maintenance.

“We are lucky and have a 180,000 litre tank underneath which holds enough water for three-weeks maintenance, but the wind up here can be an issue,” he said.

“All the trees grow in one direction because of the wind.”

Freshwater is not the only apartment complex with intriguing garden space. Less hidden but just as fascinating is Triptych’s vertical “Fytogreen” garden.

Stunning as it is, the garden is also practical, cleverly hiding and allowing airflow into the building’s car park.

The design above the main entrance to the Kavanagh St building was brought to life by celebrity landscaper and TV personality Jamie Durie.

The former Backyard Blitz host and landscaper on The Oprah Winfrey Show faced challenges when putting the stunning wall feature together, but his creation goes a long way to achieving his vision of an urban oasis in the sky.

No doubt there was added pressure to make the garden look good, given the building’s close proximity to Melbourne arts precinct.

“Triptych’s landscaping has been inspired by the building’s innovative design and Melbourne’s arts precinct,” Mr Durie said.

The Elm on Dorcas St has its own version of the Fytogreen garden on its facade, as well as within the main foyer. The foyer also has a line of pot plants opposite to give the entrance to the building an overgrown feel.

This is continued with its level-five outdoor area, where bamboo plants and lush greenery surround a swimming pool, two spas and communal dining table.

With a name like Elm the developers were putting the pressure on themselves, but have certainly given the entrance, foyer, and outdoor area an overgrown feel.

At first glance Southbank apartment buildings may look like a concrete jungle, but in reality there are areas to keep any green-thumbed resident happy.

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