Last week I looked back almost 20-years to the release of Paddington Green located in Sydney’s historic Paddington. At the time, this project to my thinking, demonstrated many of the best and emerging trends associated with quality mixed-use and medium density developments.

These included varied building scale across a range of apartments and townhomes (‘terraces’), the part retention of historic buildings, the use of a panel of architects and the creation of valuable public open space.

While Paddington Green was not alone in delivering these qualities, as there were others, coincidently they were also re-cycled hospital sites. What Paddington Green and the other projects did show was that how quality and innovation were evolving and continues to do so today.

Newmarket Randwick

Which neatly brings me Newmarket Randwick, like Paddington this is an infill project in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. A development by Cbus which draws its inspiration and character from the sites equestrian history and the surrounding neighbourhoods, and the project also retains several historic buildings.

When complete precinct will consist of a total of 642 dwellings a much bigger scale than Paddington Green however, scale is key to how Newmarket can respond to meet today’s more mature residential market.

Randwick is a very diverse community and demographic, which inspired a skilful blending of homes that will include townhouses, terraces and apartment buildings. Public spaces has been a driving aspect of the projects planning and will deliver over 5,000sqm of parks and open space, while also conserving the grand old fig trees and heritage structures.

However, one notable innovation that expands well beyond what was included at Paddington Green, is Newmarket’s retail, dining and leisure precincts, designed as a true destination providing a much-expanded range shops and restaurants.

The design here aims to create a new neighbourhood that will take on the much-loved character of this remarkable site and will also deliver a wide range of housing options from the group of leading architects.

Newmarket, like Paddington Green adjoins an area rich in facilities across education, research and health facilities. Both sites have easy access to the Sydney CBD although Newmarket will soon leap-frog many other projects and boast a new light rail connection from Randwick Station and then later from Kingsford Station into the heart of the CBD.

Today at Newmarket we also see a big trend where much more of a development is devoted to open space. At Newmarket 30% of the new neighbourhood is dedicated to public open space including a kids playground. This one item alone reinforces the increasingly popular trend where more families are moving to medium density housing and this has encouraged the building of larger 3-bedroom apartments, an important consideration when blending new and established communities.

Because of its size and location and in contrast to Paddington Green, Newmarket will also feature over 20 new cafes, restaurants, and retail facilities. Again, this is an aspect of mixed-use developments very much in demand among buyers.

The location is only an 8-minute walk to the new light rail station which is soon to open. Other key aspects of the location include a 5-minute drive to Coogee Beach and a 6km drive from the Sydney CBD.

Since Paddington Green was completed 20-years earlier, there has been a big  evolution in the quality of finishes and the design intention driving the apartments at Newmarket with the highest grade of finishes and construction standards and with an emphasis on exceptional outdoor spaces.

The result at Newmarket is anything but a cookie-cutter approach to design, different buildings by varied architects and individual apartments are imaginatively reflecting their immediate environment across the different stages of the project.

That include 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments and penthouses, plus a selection of garden terraces.

These varied themes of the stages are being built into the architectural DNA of Newmarket with the use of different materials, colours and the use of popular classic design elements. The aim is to achieve a weaving together of new buildings that are carefully planned to sit very comfortably within an existing neighbourhood and the retained buildings and mature landscape.

Newmarket is a perfect example where the project will combine history, craftsmanship and design qualities that combined deliver a strong local connection, and a process of collaboration has underpinned every aspect of the projects planning.

Newmarket is located in the midst of an already diverse area, and its mixed-use credentials deliver different sized apartments and townhomes with retail and commercial uses, designed to appeal to a wide demographic. There’s a strong appreciation among buyers of the aesthetics of the project and that’s made up of several key factors including finishes, appliances, energy efficiency and functionality alongside the clever use of more everyday items like colours and mirrors.

The appeal of both Paddington Green and Newmarket is further reinforced by the use of a range of materials, textures, colours and finishes that are then combined with the best aspects of location. The landscape is also a very big plus for Newmarket that literally creates a deep and immediate connection to the area and this appeals to both residents and visitors.

Today, as new projects are being taken to market, we are seeing constant improvement and that’s very reassuring as building quality and design excellence continue to boost the credentials of the developers leading innovation.

However, as we have seen with these two projects there are a few common and yet innovative and very sensible pointers to their success both today and twenty years ago.

These include; medium to low rise construction over a number of distinctive buildings. A mix of apartment and townhouse product that also includes larger apartments, mixed use facilities, an abundance of open space including public access space, the retention of historic buildings and trees/fauna. Plus, the use of the best available products and building materials and all alongside local community integration.

In the twenty years between Newmarket and Paddington Green as our cities grew, I believe that the creation of new medium and high-density housing has generally responded with imagination and consistent improvement, making a positive contribution to our communities and cities.

However, this is an ongoing goal dating back thousands of years as noted by no other than Socrates, planning, design and construction will most-certainly continue to evolve.

“By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.” – Socrates