Peter Kennon (left) and Nicolas Crema (right)
Boutique Developer had the opportunity to connect with the visionary duo, Nicholas Crema and architect, Peter Kennon, who have forged a unique collaborative relationship which has underpinned the vision and execution of one of South Melbourne’s most remarkable new mixed-use offerings.
Taking inspiration from New York and London, South Melbourne’s new destination building by Crema Group is a unique and innovative combination of heightened experience and originality, offering residents a seamless transition between work, lifestyle and leisure.
A marvellous blend of luxury and amenity redefines the concept of “a place to live”, with a café and wine bar, European-inspired day spa, rooftop pool and bar, curated workspaces, an executive lounge and 36 private residences.
The Eighth is located within what is to become the Domain Precinct, a revitalised pocket of Melbourne on the borders of St Kilda Road, Dorcas Street and Kings Way. Located on the edge of the CBD, The development offers direct access to some of the area’s best parks, art and dining destinations, presenting a village-like setting with the atmosphere and accessibility of cosmopolitan city living.
BD: What are the factors that make for the strong collaborative relationship that you enjoy?
Peter: Nick is a refreshing new generation of developer. He embodies youthful energy, pushing new ideas and finding ways to make things better. He has a strong understanding of the value of design. Ideas are only one part, but it’s also the confidence to back them and get things done that makes Nick great to work with.
The knowledge of a third-generation construction company has enabled us to move quickly through a concept to the pragmatics of how things need to work. I believe Nick works more like a creative director of his business, which is fascinating for someone with a background in finance.
Nicolas: Pete and I quickly worked out over a brief chat that we were like-minded despite coming from totally different paths. I knew Pete from social circles but it wasn’t until we embarked on The Eighth journey together while he was at Elenberg Fraser that I discovered what an incredible architect he is.
We have been aligned from day one on The Eighth which was largely due to us both having a shared vision to do something truly great which pushed the boundaries and was different. Our vision for this project has never wavered and it’s great to see buyers responding with such positivity.
BD: What most excites you about the discipline of developing and community generation?
Nicolas: I’m excited by the opportunity we have as a business to take inspiration from all over the world and deliver new product in Melbourne which is on par with the truly global cities such as London and New York.
Australia is a relatively young market and there is so much opportunity to continue to raise the bar in the property development space. That’s what excites me most about the future. Almost every time I travel overseas, I come back with a dozen new building features that I’ve discovered which I want to incorporate into our projects. That’s always exciting.
Of course, property development gives you the opportunity to create something which someone else will get to appreciate and enjoy. There is no better feeling for me than working on something which takes years to deliver and then seeing people enjoy the benefits of all the hard work that has gone into delivering the project.
BD: What principles guide the types of projects you choose to bring to market?
Nicolas: We are always looking to raise the bar. Not only from a quality perspective but also in terms of staying ahead of the curve from a design point of view. We don’t accept that, just because something was done a certain way in the past, it is the way it has to be done in the future
Technology is constantly changing along with people’s living habits, we need to respond and our buildings must be designed to adapt to this evolution in lifestyle. Whether bringing a luxury residential project to market or a commercial office building, we are constantly thinking about the customer and end-user to imagine the experiences that will be facilitated in the buildings we create.
BD: Peter, what most excites you about the prospect of designing a truly holistic place within which to live, work and play?
Peter: Places become meaningful to people. When I arrive home after trips away, I always make an effort to drive down the main streets. I want to absorb the atmosphere, see what’s changed, and immerse myself in the energy of the place. I feel attached to it. This is the idea of placemaking that creates identity.
The responsibility of creating this for people within a city and a community is thrilling. What starts out as masterplan diagrams that inform how the patterns of the building will function develop into detailed modelling of the commercial metrics and planning of the future occupant’s desired experience.
BD: How does The Eighth impact the human experience of living in Melbourne?
Peter: The greater the effect on your human senses the more memorable the experience and greater the sense of place. The Eighth directly integrates nuanced design and heightened sensual experiences into the building through elements that have become staple activities in people’s lifestyles.
This is evident in Melbourne’s longstanding hospitality culture, where design has played a pivotal role in making dining a sensory experience that extends beyond the gastronomic. At The Eighth, this thinking is woven into the fabric of the environment, from the ground floor F&B offerings to the health and wellness facilities, the business centre and the rooftop pool and entertainment deck.
Each of these elements has been designed to enhance daily rituals by stimulating the senses – and marking an evolution for day-to-day living in Melbourne.
BD: What were the unique challenges or design requirements associated with this project?
Peter: From a design perspective, The Eighth is positioned in an almost forgotten pocket of the Domain Precinct. It’s a calm cul-de-sac nestled behind the busy St Kilda Road, Park Street and Albert Road. A street that hasn’t been residential, yet it ticks all of the boxes of attributes for a great place to live.
With council’s master plans for the upgrade of the streetscape into a pedestrianised plaza and the inclusion of a pocket park across the road, the site is primed for revitalising and will be an envied precinct where The Eighth is positioned directly at the centre.
Forecasting this assisted in determining the architecture. we designed the building to create a thickness in the façade line to provide protection and privacy for the interior spaces whilst portraying a solidity to the building that demands presence. This architecture reveals the concrete structure of the building remaining exposed being visible and touchable from inside and out, a raw and highly engineered concrete grid system in-filled with high-performance glazing. It’s an honest building that doesn’t hide how it’s been constructed. The raw material palette and geometry discovers an elegance found through restraint that lets the interior design and the landscaping compliment with refinement and colour.
BD: Please tell us a bit about the types of buyer audiences the project is attracting and why.
Nicolas: Our buyer demographic has been quite diverse and really what has attracted most of our buyers has been the very unique nature of this building. Thus far we have had professional couples, young families, empty nesters looking to move closer to the city from the suburbs, and locals already living in apartments in the area who are upgrading to a better product. Most of our buyers are entrepreneurs and business owners who I think appreciate the vision for The Eighth. They travel for both work or pleasure and are looking for a building which works in with their lifestyle. The unique direct lifting system and service offering that the building provides has definitely been a major drawcard.