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Designing Waterfronts

Are you getting the most out of your waterfront position?

Our team has compiled a succinct list to show you how to maximize access, reduce maintenance, express a unique style and navigate the approvals process. As part of our research the team took a boat trip around Pittwater to collect a photographic record and demonstrate some of the most important aspects of designing a home on the waterfront.

Our Top 4 Design Considerations
  1. Development Application Considerations
  • Neighbor Interface. Study the boundary implications of your proposed works. Privacy, shade, drainage and views are critical factors to consider for your property as well as the neighbors. Early consultation can aid in favorable neighbor relations during the approvals process. To mitigate the development impacts consider boundary wall and fencing step-downs that are sympathetic to neighboring views.
  • Protect Existing Native Vegetation. Value existing vegetation as an asset rather than an inconvenience. Whilst widened water views might be alluring – large established trees provide much needed scale to the site and compliment the built form to ensure the building appears situated within its surrounds. (Not to mention the provision of local habitat and strict council controls)
  • Re-Habilitate & Re-Vegetate. Refer to the endemic vegetation community that is naturally found on your site as a useful indicator of what plants will be well suited for the site conditions and provide appropriate habitat to attract local wildlife.
  1. Slope Stability & Access

Waterfront properties typically have significant grade changes to access the water.

  • 3:1 angle of repose. This rule of thumb is the steepest grade achievable without slipping.
  • Maintenance. Consider the level of maintenance required for different landscape areas and how they will be accessed e.g access for equipment such as lawn mowers.
  • Water Access. Use the waterfront transition as an opportunity for an experiential journey. Meandering paths and landings can take advantage of key viewpoints as well and provide for rest spots and entertaining spaces. The treatment style will also have a visual impact when viewed from the water.
  • Inclinators. Consider access both to and from the water. Inclinators can be a very functional solution to the practicalities of a waterfront lifestyle but keep in mind the associated council requirements for 2 meter offset from the boundary and practicalities to achieving access to a mutli-storey property.
  1. Boat Sheds & Watercraft storage (Amenities & storage)
  • Storage. Consider your storage requirements. Water recreation equipment such as surfboards, paddle boards and kayaks can take up valuable waterfront space and appear untidy if not pre-considered.
  • Amentity. A Boat shed can also provide guest accommodation and complete the picture of the ultimate/quintessential Pittwater waterfront.
  1. Materials & Style
  • Plant Pallette. Choose hardy species with an ‘almost native’ plant palette. Using predominantly natives with a few feature exotics will achieve council BASIX requirements and ensure the landscape responds well to the front line salt laden winds that come with waterfront properties. A well considered plant palette can ensure your landscape endures the test of time and thrives rather than suffers in the harsh waterfront environment.
  • Materials. Incorporate materials that compliment the local context such as stone and timber. Consider the longevity of materials, how they will endure constant exposure to the elements and how the sites grade change/verticality will be interpreted when viewed from the water. The repetition of large retaining walls and intensive staircases can result in a harsh design outcome. A ‘soft touch’ to the landscape treatment with natural boulders, sloped walls that work with the topography, semi transparent balustrades and lightweight staircases/structures can improve visual amenity, user experience and aid in favorable council approval.
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