Marshall White Projects Newsletter Edition 18

Page 1

Projects Review Edition 18. 2019

Edition 18 Explores: Digital & Technology Changes in the Industry

Designing Better Apartments

Contractor Engagement and Project Management

Property Law Changes Affecting the Industry

State and National Updates and Challenges



1 Notes From The Directors

How Important is Looking Good Online? — Michael Simonetti, Digital Agency

2 Spotlight 4 Current Projects 6 How Important is Looking Good Online?

Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) — Alex Godler, Director, AG Construct

8 Victoria in The Future 10 Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) 12 Australia's Medium-Density Housing Shortage 14 Natural Light and Our Health

Australia's Medium-Density Housing Shortage — Trent Wiltshire, Economist, Domain Natural Light and Our Health — Jodie Walker, The Secret Agent Report

16 Better Apartment Design Standards 18 Are Wills Enough? 20 The Sun Sets on Developer Rights 22 The High Life 24 Development and Project Management 26 M odern Technology: How VR is Changing the Design Landscape 28 Past Project Profiles

Better Apartment Design Standards — Andrea Towson, Special Counsel, Arnold Bloch Leibler Are Wills Enough? — Teresa Catalano, Managing Principal, iWills Legal The Sun Sets on Developer Rights — Yoni Ungar, Lawyer, TLFC The High Life — Charlotte McGill, Associate Interior Designer, Mim Design — Amelia Wainwright, Stylist & Designer, Mim Design

Projects 3 Elwood Park 3 Daracombe 4 Greenwell 4 The Beckworth

Development and Project Management — Greg Adshead, Owner, Lumiere Development Management Group Modern Technology: How VR is Changing the Design Landscape — Will Leaf, Managing Director, Ewert Leaf

4 835 High 5 Botanical 5 Lothian St 5 Glenarm Sq Past Project Profiles 30 Highgreen 30 Anderson Park 31 Verse 31 Eastbridge

Cover Photo: Rose & Bird 14 Adori Place Maribyrnong

+ 61 3 9822 9999 1111 High Street, Armadale VIC 3143

Disclaimer: Information provided is believed to be accurate as at the date of printing, no responsibility is taken for any errors or omissions. It is your responsibility to obtain independent, professional advice. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in Marshall White’s (trading as Marshall White Projects) technical and regulatory newsletters. However, Marshall White cannot guarantee that there will be no errors. Marshall White and its contributors to the newsletter make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of the newsletters and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of this newsletters. Neither does Marshall White and its contributors to the newsletter assume any legal liability for any direct, indirect or any other loss or damage of any kind for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product, or process disclosed herein, and do not represent that the use of such information, product, or process would not infringe on privately owned rights.

Notes from the Directors We recently read a competitors report on several topical issues relevant to project sales, including what to do with established (returned or as yet unsold) stock at the time of a project’s completion. The advice was basically to furnish it (maximise presentation) and invest in additional marketing in the belief that you then won’t have to adjust price to align your product with the established market. Whilst interesting, it’s a misguided belief that price will no longer be of concern. Any price correction necessary to sell a completed apartment or townhouse can be paralleled to that of the brand new car market (remember you’re accountants advice not to “invest” in buying a new car, but we just can’t seem to help ourselves) as the day you drive a new car off the lot, it’s then worth less. We seem to have no choice but to pay the sticker price for these shiny toys at the time of ordering, we attempt to negotiate a raft of upgrades to be included in the price (and fail) because we always buy emotionally and then attempt to justify it logically in front of our accountant/ bank manager/significant other (more examples of failing). Completed off the plan product is no different. Why is a new car or apartment worth less post completion? Supply and demand at the time of settlement is certainly a factor, however the greatest consideration is that you’re not building anything for free. So an acceptable profit margin (to either you or the lender) has already been built into the price. We continue to urge our developer clients to “sell all they need to sell” prior to completion, which means that an additional investment in media post financial close will be necessary. With Marshall White Projects having now successfully worked through in excess of 120 projects, history shows that the rate of sale during a construction period is less than 20% of the same project’s rate per sale during the first three months post launch. It’s obvious that the majority of any developments profit margin sits

within the remaining 15–20% of your as yet unsold stock, so it’s often prudent to increase a buyer rebate or the value of an incentive pack for this remaining product well before practical completion. This adjustment to the bottom line will be significantly less than the reduction required to entice an established buyer to proceed with your completed apartment or townhouse. Within today’s market, where referral groups are no longer the “lock” they once were, where the retention of a buyer’s 10% deposit will rarely cover the shortfall of a previously failed sale, we see that these concerns around completed stock are no longer issues confined to towers within the CBD. Of course, if you don’t need to realise a projects entire gross revenue then you may wish to take a hold position for any unsold or returned stock. Whilst hold times vary relative to both product and location, typically a term of 3-5 years is required until your stock’s then worth (significantly) more than what you could have expected to sell for pre completion. The good news (and there’s always good news at Marshall White Projects) is that since the start of the financial year, both the residential market and our off the plan sales have continued to move in the right direction. Buyer inquiry for off the plan product has increased by 21% since the start of the year and we now receive on average 520 off the plan buyer inquiries a week. The success rate for auctions around our four offices remain relatively strong with over 77% offered selling on the day, primarily owing to a complete dearth of good residential stock. All this means the much heralded empty nester or professional couple are now strolling down to our six Projects rooms in Armadale over 200 times a month, now willing and able to make an off the plan buying commitment with renewed confidence. As always, good selling.

Mark Dayman Director

Leonard Teplin Director

T: 03 9832 1193 M: 0409 342 462

T: 03 9832 1191 M: 0402 431 657



Lawrence Yan

Larissa Rael

Julian Papas

Sales Executive

Executive Assistant to Ross Hams

Sales Executive

Lawrence is a talented communicator. Fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay, his personal enthusiasm for property investment motivates Lawrence to help his clients find suitable investment property, appropriate to each individual need.

Larissa’s passion for property was sparked at a young age and she is armed with an extensive knowledge of the real estate industry. Larissa began her career in property management in London before returning to Melbourne where she was one of the original Marshall White team members. Larissa’s adventurous and inquisitive nature has also taken her abroad to Boston, where she lived for over a decade.

Combining a comprehensive knowledge of the real estate industry with an approachable, empathetic nature, Julian is focused on achieving the best possible outcome for his clients. With an open and honest communication style and the innate ability to listen to the needs of his clients, Julian is able to match them with their ideal apartment or townhouse while ensuring a seamless and enjoyable process for everyone involved.

Lawrence is a talented communicator. Fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay, his personal enthusiasm for property investment motivates Lawrence to help his clients find suitable investment property, appropriate to each individual need. With a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and after years of experience overseeing the provision of mechanical building services for the construction of high-rise towers and mega-malls, Lawrence now directs his skills to off-the-plan residential project marketing. Alongside his intention to assure hassle-free transactions for his clients, Lawrence’s willingness to listen makes doing business with him a pleasure. Lawrence is a keen weekend golfer. Married with two sons, he loves taking the family to the movies or going for an invigorating swim.


Known for her personalised and professional approach coupled with compassionate guidance for her clients, Larissa plays an integral role in ensuring the smooth and efficient operation of our Projects division. Combining exceptional management skills and a keen eye for detail, Larissa’s positive and optimistic outlook make her a highly revered team member. Larissa grew up in Stonnington and was educated at St Michael’s Grammar School. She has two children and is immersed in their schooling and extra curricular activities. Larissa enjoys doing Pilates and yoga in her downtime as well as exploring Melbourne, travelling and catching up with friends and family.

Julian began his real estate career in property management, before finding his passion in off the plan sales. Working with the Marshall White projects team, Julian relishes the opportunity to work with some of Victoria’s most highly acclaimed developers and architects. A genuine passion for property and design is what drives Julian to succeed in the competitive real estate industry. Raised in Melbourne, Julian attended school at St Kevin’s College in Toorak. In his down time, Julian enjoys going to the footy, spending time at the beach and trying new restaurants. Julian is also a keen traveller and snowboarder.

Elwood Park 451 St Kilda Street Elwood

Daracombe 7 Daracombe Avenue Kew


Current Projects Greenwell

The Beckworth

597 Burke Road Camberwell

184 Tooronga Road Glen Iris

835 High 835 High Street Armadale


Current Projects Botanical

Lothian St

16 Spring Road Malvern

141 Arden Street North Melbourne

Glenarm Sq 1 Glenarm Road Glen Iris


How important is looking good online? A how to, and why looking good online is the benchmark for businesses today.

Now you might have a bit of an oh-oh moment when reading that title, are we going to hear about loosing those winter love handles or you won’t be a hit on Instagram this summer… well no, that’s your doctor’s line …and side note, the cuddlier the better on Instagram these days since they’ve just dropped public engagement numbers in Australia. Actually, this is about your business. If you haven’t already gotten stuck into digital marketing, this is a bit of a how to, and why looking good online is the benchmark for business in today’s competitive marketplace. I’ve been marketing client’s businesses online for over 20 years, was there at the start of the Internet, rode the boom and have been on the edge of every buzzword ever since. It’s a mad, hectic and often over-hyped industry full of cowboys and narrow advice. So if you’ve found something that is already getting you great results, keep going. If you happen to have a touch of George Clooney looks or charisma, or a few percent the social reach of a Kardashian, and you still aren’t making absurd amounts from digital; you need better ideas – call me. The Internet has “insert cliché - changed everything” but the biggest miss I see when clients walk through the door: they look sharp, talk sharp and know their business… but if you go to follow them online, it’s like they don’t even exist. If you’re not quite convinced of the power of digital, I could do a series on clients who “know better”, this is “all a phase” and “I don’t need to we are in X” retail or B2B or real-estate… then watch their businesses fade away or go off a cliff as younger, digital natives, walk in with pretty average strategies and a friend who’s a designer take chunks out of your industry. It’s why we are bullish at the start and push clients to ‘get it’ straight away, rather than fighting up hill battles when competing in market. Getting it means, “getting close”. You don’t have to be Nike or Google. I’ve thought about the common threads in client conversations and put the top tips together here, so you’ll be on the competitive when it comes to must haves. Step 1. Make everything you put online look beautiful. We live in the most aspirational and designer world that ever existed. The benchmark is high, and unless you’re in the top few percent, you’ll never succeed. It is the embossed business card of the 90s, the reason why you’re footy team has a new logo, and why Google went from quirky coloured letters to slick Sans-Serif typeface. We can all sell 1-on-1, but what represents you when you’re not in the room and someone is looking at sharing or buying from you? Word of mouth remains the number one reason behind social proof. No one shares if you look crap, (unless you’re going for that low-lowprice shopper like JB-HIFI, Reject Shop or those $2 Made in China discount stores). When we first assess a client, we look at the brand before anything else. Why? If their branding looks dated, that is what everyone else thinks. From there, we look at graphics, photography, layout… anything


aesthetic has to have consistent style about it. With those basics we step up to website, advertising, social media – do they all look as good? With the hundred or so ways you can be shared online, in a year how many thousands of these opportunities have you converted, or missed? Now you don’t have to go and create the world’s best brand and style guide. There is really no new design, but if you don’t know what’s in fashion or on trend, chances are you aren’t that stylish, so get some help. Ok, your brand is sharp - what about your team? One of the biggest assets you have is everyone in your team represents you online. They have hundreds of “friends” across multiple platforms. That is an army of advocates you can tap into. Lead by example – ensure your profile represents you authentically. As a quick guide, I recommend in order; LinkedIN, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. I’m not saying go and do a photo shoot down a side lane in the CBD to look cool, or start posting

every meal you eat. Those days are gone. But there are basics you must get right - link social pages to your website, ensure people can Google and find you, do the same for your team. This will ensure every possible link is connected. Simple things like taking a photo in front of your reception logo for linkedIN profiles work too – as long as you haven’t missed step 1. Ok, social media is another world, and if you’re thinking about it for the first time, unless you can commit the time, just get the basics right. From there, and if you’re looking to turbo-charge results, clients, customers, there are still huge opportunities. It might be obvious, but it is all a numbers game. Build audiences any way you can. Be it email or social, traffic follows when you have access to your own people online that (A) know what you do and (B) respect you. This is exactly like the brand play – make it consistent, make it authentic. Remember elevator pitches: your presence online should be clear. Pick one thing and promote that, make sure people know what that is. This is the line you use at BBQs when people ask what you do. Just make sure you don’t have to explain it afterwards, or again, people you don’t know can’t share it.

people start coming to you – this is where it’s at; your no longer cold calling the internet with sales spam, people are coming to you wanting to buy. Huge difference. The larger your audience, the easier it is. To sell out a project and get new clients, all already framed with “I want to buy” is a home run. This could be a few hundred or a few thousand, as long as they are engaged and know what you do, you’re on the right path. The wrong path, buying followers, being too far off topic or character – not being your brand. There are tons of other little tips, but from there, the advice only gets more and more bespoke. There is no cookie-cutter solutions, only more click bait ideas. Once you’re looking good online, you’ve already increased you chances on everything else you do. Remember, image is everything. Don’t just look good, look great. This will make it easy to be shared. The new world of marketing is owning your own digital audiences - As a catch all, to convert, to really convert, the effort, resources and funds you put into digital should return a bankable result before 3 months. If not, you’re doing it wrong. Be ready to tweak your social game - You should feel like you have a good handle and starting to get traction with friends of friends in a few weeks, otherwise, change your approach.

— Michael Simonetti Director, P: +61 415 552 222

Start with your LinkedIN profile (and feel free to copy mine!). Written in the third person, connected with everyone I know and recommendations to show I’m an expert in my field. Everyone of these hooks can result in searches, and therefore people finding you. Every platform makes it easy to connect with people you already know (they love your data) so use that to your advantage. The first few hundred advocates you already know. Friends of friends, and friends of theirs, are where profit amplifies. Build your audiences, those with access their to their own people online gets marketing messages out fast and if done well, still near free. Start now, work on the messaging as you go, it isn’t a print ad…and if you are still paying newspapers or magazines for print spots you are literally out of touch with reality, guaranteed something or someone is actually keeping your business afloat. What are the numbers? Where should you have them? You’ll know as


Victoria in The Future The Underlying Future Demand

Key Projections Data






Estimated Resident Population






Total Households






Average Household Size






Estimated Resident Population

Change 2016-2056

Region 2016






Avg Rate

Greater Melbourne








Rest of Victoria








An extra 4,286,900 people in Melbourne to 2056... at an average household size of around 2.5 people... equals approx. 1,714,760 extra households... over 40 years, that's around 43,000 dwellings... PER YEAR! Source: Victoria in Future & Charter Keck Cramer

Residential: Melbourne Apartment Completions 40,000


Under Construction



0 2000 2001

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007

Source: Charter Keck Cramer


2008 2009 2010









2019f 2020f 2021f

Residential: Melbourne Apartments as % of Dwelling Stock (2006–2016)



2016 2006




Metro Population


3M 2016 2016

2M 2016


Brisbane 2006



1M Adelaide

0M 0%














Apartments* [% of Total Metro Dwelling Stock] Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 and 2016 as at the relevant Census nights.

Residential: Australian Cities vs North Americas (2016)

10M Chicago

Metro Population

8M Dallas












San Francisco






Houston Atlanta







0M 0%
















Apartments* [% of Total Metro Dwelling Stock] Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 and 2016 as at the relevant Census nights; Charter Keck Cramer. *Apartments for the purpose of this analysis comprises Flats, Units or Apartments in a 4 or more storey block.

— Glenn Lampard Director Valuations – Strategic Research, Charter Keck Cramer P: + 61 3 8102 8928


Early Contractor Involvement (ECI)

How ECI can deliver lower costs and a faster build for your project? Early Contractor Involvement or ECI, whilst a relatively well-known term and an aspirational goal for many building industry suppliers, is rarely put into practice when it comes to the construction of multi-level residential projects. Collaboration is key in the construction industry; and strong collaboration built on shared goals and mutual trust is instrumental in any successful project delivery. Collaboration is required between developer and selling agents, developer and architects, developer and engineers, architect and interior designers, and perhaps most important of all, collaboration between developer and builder whose job it is to deliver a quality project on time and within budget.


The overall benefits of ECI Property development is an inherently risky business. There are always things that will go wrong, cost more, be delayed, face objections, require amendment and more. As a developer, the earlier you assume your whole-of-project view, the better the chances are of ensuring all elements including the project’s design and all important ‘build-ability’, construction materials, site constraints, labour requirements and optimal trade sequencing are carried out in the most efficient way, and to achieve a quality finish. It is through engaging a trusted contractor early on and considering their professional advice and experience about how to best achieve the desired result and avoid costly delays, that the full benefits of ECI can be enjoyed.

The benefits of ECI at the site acquisition stage If the potential site is constrained by access difficulties, adjoining buildings or other impediments, construction methods available are often quite limited. This usually equates to additional cost in terms of equipment and scaffolding requirements and/or more specialised labour teams. Having an experienced builder engaged early to advise on the build-ability of a proposed development, for example site establishment issues, could impact on the project feasibility before the site purchase is even finalised. The type of site establishment factors that might be considered during ECI –V icinity of power lines. They may require relocation or design setbacks may need to be increased –U nderground services, sewer/stormwater/water. Is there adequate infrastructure in the vicinity of your proposed project and should you allow for costs to build new infrastructure such as stormwater and/or sewer pipelines and branches? –L ocation of site amenities and storage of building materials. On tight sites it may be necessary to consider leasing nearby properties for the site office. Structural gantries over footpaths as loading bays may be required, which is at additional cost to hire council property for the duration of construction. –C onsider where building materials will be lifted from. On tight sites tower cranes may be required, additional cost to preliminaries. –C onsider where concrete will be poured from and where concrete pumps will be set up. On tight sites it may be necessary to occupy council land permanently or temporarily. A static pump may be required, again at additional cost to preliminaries. Site establishment costs vary for site to site, which is why it is important to have an experienced contractor involved with your team early on to determine the most efficient way to set up the site, so that preliminary costs can be carefully balanced with build time, thereby reducing holding costs. The benefits of ECI at planning stage Before you complete and submit your planning drawings for council, it can be advantageous to also have your building’s structural concept designed. This is so that your structure can be designed for the efficient transfer of loads throughout the building early on in the process. This can avoid the need for unnecessarily complex formwork for suspended concrete slabs requiring extra labour costs down the track, and can also reduce build time. ECI at planning stage also reduces the need for re-documentation and re-commissioning of consultant reports at a later stage, as well as additional secondary consent applications with councils (which are getting more expensive). The type of site establishment factors that might be considered during ECI

for in 18 to 36 months’ time, this is not so much of an issue. What if on the other hand, you start out with a project offering compact one and two bedders, yet the real demand in the area has moved on to cashed up downsizers who won’t consider anything less than three large bedrooms plus study, two bathrooms and a generous balcony? Your structural design may not allow you the flexibility to combine apartments and services in order to create those larger residences with much greater (and more profitable) target market appeal. Less is not always more Another example is concrete slab thickness. Under cost-saving pressure, engineers will sometimes specify the thinnest slab with a complex framework of thickened areas (band beams) throughout – but this does not always deliver the best result. This usually means additional costs for formwork labour and a longer build time. A thinner slab can also mean additional fire and acoustic treatments during plaster stage to meet compliance. The solution could possibly be to simplify the formwork by eliminating the band beams and thickening the slab slightly throughout. Generally speaking, materials are always cheaper than labour, so the goal should always be to work towards a design that can easily and efficiently come together on site. Making decisions with this fact is mind is critical, and an ECI with your building team to identify this could certainly be a profit maximiser. The type of site establishment factors that might be considered during ECI Early material selection can also deliver big cost savings for developers. A good example is the selection of manufactured vs. natural products. For instance, bluestone tiling is a natural material, which has long been a popular specification for Melbourne buildings. Whilst it looks great, it requires additional care to cut, lay, seal and maintain. In many cases, it makes sense to limit actual bluestone to the high impact areas such as the entry pathways or feature walls and floors. Using a bluestone-look porcelain tile in all other areas such as private terraces and balconies can deliver significant project savings and benefit the end user though ease of maintenance. It’s a win-win for all, which should be the objective in all material selections. In general, spend $$ on materials that return the highest impact and value to the project. Scale back in all other areas, whilst still choosing quality materials that are both cost-effective and low maintenance. The builder should be a crucial part of the team in delivering a quality project through innovation and efficiency, and in ensuring the build-ability of the project early on. Material choices, affordability and functionality are key factors to consider. With Early Contractor Involvement, the builder should be able to provide valuable advice to the developer to streamline the process of design, and impact directly upon cost, quality and time.

— Alex Godler Director, AG Construct P: +61 3 9534 7770

Do you require ‘structural flexibility’ in your design for maximising the layout options for the end purchaser? If you’re completely confident that your product offering will be exactly what the market is looking


Australia's Medium-Density Housing Short

Economist Trent Wiltshire recently explored how to address Australia’s medium-density housing shortage for Domain. Here's what he had to say.

Medium-density housing is undersupplied in the suburbs of Australia’s capital cities. A building boom has helped erode this shortage somewhat, but demand for this type of housing is rising and will continue to grow. To meet the demand for more medium-density housing, state and local governments need to change planning rules that constrain the building of medium-density housing in Australia’s capital cities, particularly in areas close to public transport.

What is “medium-density” housing? Typically, medium-density dwelling types include townhouses, terrace houses, semi-detached houses, duplexes and manor houses. Medium-density housing is also referred to as the “missing middle”, as this type of housing is considered to be “missing” from cities. The missing middle is an apt description of Australian cities, which are dominated by detached houses. According to the 2016 Census, 12.8 per cent of the Australian housing stock (1.27 million dwellings) was medium-density. The share of medium-density housing is highest in capital cities and the ACT, and lowest in Tasmania. Melbourne contained the most medium-density homes in 2016, at just under 310,000. Medium-density housing uses land more efficiently than detached housing by utilising common walls, smaller set-backs and common driveways. As land generally accounts for most of the cost of a dwelling, particularly in inner and middle-ring capital city suburbs, smaller block sizes significantly reduces the cost of a dwelling. There is strong demand for medium-density housing, but there’s a shortage in our capital cities. There is substantial unmet demand for medium-density housing within Australia’s major capital cities. The Grattan Institute conducted a survey in 2011 that asked people to consider the trade-off between price, size and location when deciding on what home they would like to live in, while also taking into account their income.


This research found that when the actual housing stock in 2016 was compared to people’s preferred housing stock (once people had considered the trade-offs), there was an undersupply of medium-density housing (and apartments) in Sydney and Melbourne, particularly in middle and outer suburbs. It will take several years of a higher share of new medium-density dwelling construction to make a significant inroad into the shortage identified in the above studies. Demand for medium-density housing is likely to have grown in the eight years since the Grattan Institute survey was conducted. As congestion has worsened and commuting times have increased, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, it’s likely that people would place a higher premium on location than they did in 2011. Jobs have concentrated in and around city centres, making proximity to the city and public transport more valuable. Housing preferences have also shifted, with walkability, a key attraction of medium-density living, highly valued. More recent surveys have also found strong demand for mediumdensity housing, particularly when survey respondents are asked to consider the trade-offs between location/travel time and dwelling size/price. It’s not just young families looking to break into the housing market who are willing to sacrifice a large backyard for a better-located house. Many retirees also express a preference for this type of housing when looking to downsize in their local area. Demand for medium-density housing is likely to keep growing, underpinned by high land prices, strong population growth, longer commutes and changing housing preferences. State and local governments need to adjust planning rules to enable the construction of more medium-density housing so that the housing stock shifts closer to what residents of our cities say they want. But first, governments need to undertake community consultation to hear resident concerns and deliver better public infrastructure such as parks and public transport (and use existing infrastructure more efficiently). Governments also need to communicate the benefits of medium-density housing, such as walkability, better local shopping and entertainment, improved housing affordability, and diversity of housing choice. The federal government can also play a role by providing infrastructure funding and other incentives to state and local governments that allow more medium-density housing to be built.

— Trent Wiltshire Economist, Domain



Natural Light and Our Health

“ Modern designers filled the world with buildings and developments divorced from their context, existing as if in some alien realm disconnected from ecology‌and place.â€? (Orr, 2006) Natural light in our homes connects us to nature. In our increasingly built up cities and suburbs, lack of natural light is becoming more of a problem. This is compounded by the fact that people generally spend more time indoors and less time in natural settings exposed to sunlight. Light has many functions in the home. It obviously enables us to see and is an important element for creating spaces that appeal to us. It is a very different experience walking into a dark building compared to one that has lots of natural light. In our homes, light can add ambience and generally makes us feel good. Obviously, one of the other benefits of natural light is that it makes a home more energy efficient. This not only saves us money but also impacts the environment in a positive way. Many apartments and houses built in the past decade have reduced the amount of natural light available to occupants. It may seem that this can be fixed with artificial lighting, however, not all light is created equally. Human biology desires natural light, and artificial means do not compare when it comes to the influence light has on us. Natural light is superior for human health and wellbeing, as will be discussed in this issue of The Secret Agent Report.


A problem in our cities When it comes to building design, the natural light available to occupants in homes is dependent upon two things. Firstly the amount of windows in each room, and secondly the amount of light that can get through these windows. More apartment buildings and high rises are being built to deal with our increasing population. However this has created a new problem since many of these buildings block out previously existing natural light from entering neighbouring properties This effect of stolen light is not isolated to cities. More land in our suburbs is been subdivided and developed into apartments or multistory townhouses. As this happens, neighbouring homes, especially single storey ones, are finding parts of the home that used to be well lit during the day are no longer. The problem is compounded by technology. In the past, our homes were set up so that we had televisions so small that they sat in a corner of the room. Dense, vertical cities are here to stay, and so is technology. Awareness of how natural light and artificial light influence our health can help us make better choices when it comes to buying homes and how we spend our time in them.



We could soon live in a world where everyone needs glasses or contact lenses to see properly. The prevalence of myopia, or nearsightedness, across the world is increasing rapidly. It has been estimated that 30% of the world is currently myopic, and if the trend continues, 50% of the world will be myopic by 2050. (Holden et al, 2016)

Exposure to natural light early in the morning is the best way to wake up and boost our energy for the day. It also helps us fall asleep better at night by regulating our body clock. Exposure to artificial light, or natural light later in the day, does not have the same effect. (Wooten, 2007) Sleep disruption can be caused by both too much light at night time, or not enough sunlight during the day.

Natural light lowers the risk of developing myopia. It makes sense then that the parts of the world where myopia is an even greater problem is in densely populated cities where access to natural light is poor. In east Asian countries such as China, Japan and South Korea, it is estimated that more than 80% of the population is myopic. (Zheng et al, 2004)


“ More and more, so it seems to me, light is the beautifier of the building” – Frank Lloyd Wright

The prevalence is extremely high in Asia but Australia is catching up.

A recent study in Sydney investigated the prevalence of myopia in 17 year olds. (French et al, 2013) It found that 31% were myopic, which is double what was found in a similar study conducted 10 years ago. (Attebo et al, 1999) In addition to lack of natural light, staring at computer screens and other sources of artificial light can further strain our eyes and exacerbate the problem. Myopia can lead to blindness but is preventable by simply ensuring our eyes have access to natural light and get enough rest from close up work.

Natural light is an important element in architecture and can completely transform the feeling of a home. It creates a sense of harmony between the outside world and our internal environment. Natural light impacts human biology far beyond what we see and feel. As our cities become denser, having access to natural light in the home will become increasingly important to ensure optimal health and wellbeing of its occupants.

— Jodie Walker The Secret Agent Report P: +61 3 9349 4333

Excerpt from 'Natural Light and Our Health' Article


Better Apartment Design Standards Will changes to better apartments design standards deliver better developments? In 2017, the Victorian Government introduced the Better Apartments Design Standards (BADS), in order to improve the internal amenity of new apartments. A key driver was the government’s desire to crack down on ‘dog box’ apartment product and encourage the delivery of a broader mix of apartment types. In August 2019, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEWLP) announced the release of the Better Apartments in Neighbourhoods Discussion Paper, which proposes changes to the BADS, focused on improving external building and streetscape amenity. This article summarises the proposed changes and my response, as set out in a formal submission to DEWLP. It is based on feedback I’ve received from range of developer clients and contacts. What are the proposed changes to the BADS? There are five proposed changes for new apartment developments, namely: –G reen space in common areas of buildings, which preferably include trees to provide shade and landscaping that softens the street. –H igh quality building facades made from robust, durable and attractive materials that complement surrounding buildings and provide visual interest. –P rotection from wind impacts on surrounding streets and open space, so the spaces are comfortable to use and likely to be used more often. –A ttractive, engaging streets that enhance the amenity, safety and walkability of the neighbourhood. – Better managed construction impacts on existing neighbourhoods. Collectively, the aim of the proposed changes is to create greener, more robust apartment buildings that make a positive contribution to their neighbourhoods and provide a legacy of quality housing stock for future generations. Details of the proposed changes can be viewed here: Will the updated BADS deliver better apartments in neighbourhoods? In my view, the proposed changes to the BADS will not, in and of themselves, result in better apartments in neighbourhoods. The changes need to be accompanied by radical reform of the overall planning framework, which: – r ewards developers for the early adoption of, and voluntary compliance with, the BADS; – f ast-tracks the planning permit approval process for better apartments, to enable the State Government to be able to deliver greater numbers of better apartments to market sooner, consistent with its policy aspirations; and


–d epoliticises the planning permit process at a local government level, through the establishment of an independent, multi-disciplinary design review panel. This panel would deliver an increased level of expertise and understanding in assessing whether a proposed apartment building design complies with the BADS. What is preventing the delivery of better apartments in neighbourhoods? In my experience, the majority of developers want to deliver quality apartments. It is what the market demands and what sells. However, the difficulty many developers face in delivering quality apartments is uncertainty during the planning permit application process. The feedback I receive from many developers is that atypical or innovative apartment building types are often refused at the council level (where the approval process is often highly political). The matter is then referred to VCAT for determination – even if the apartment design has been peer reviewed as part of the planning process, and has the support of council officers and DELWP officers (in respect of major projects). The VCAT appeal process (even if a matter is eligible for inclusion on the fast-tracked major cases list) is both time consuming and costly. The costs increase the overall project cost and are reflected in the end price of the development.

How can planning certainty be improved and red tape reduced to deliver better apartments in neighbourhoods? In order to encourage early adoption and voluntary compliance with the updated BADS, compliance by developers should be recognised and rewarded, and the legal framework amended to reflect this. There has now been two extensive consultation processes, which have resulted in the development and further refinement of the BADS to address community concerns regarding apartment developments. Appropriate provisions should be drafted into the Victorian Planning Provisions, which exempt a planning permit application from third party notice and review provided that: –e ach and every performance standard set out in the BADS has been complied with; or – if a particular performance standard cannot be met: • the objective of the relevant BADS continues to be met; and •a n independent, multi-disciplinary, design review panel has endorsed the apartment building design.

Integral to the successful implementation of a performance based approach to planning permit applications, is the formal establishment of an independent, multi-disciplinary, Victorian design review panel. This panel must have the legal power to give a Council specific independent design advice, which must hold legal weight (such as the inclusion of the panel’s recommendations in the council officer’s report). Steps Forward – Updated BADS Public submissions on the updated BADS closed on 27 September 2019. DELWP will consider the feedback before finalizing the new standards in late 2019. Watch this space for further updates, as the proposed design standards evolve.

— Andrea Towson Special Counsel, Planning & Development , Arnold Bloch Leibler P: +61 3 9229 9642

Fast-tracking the planning permit application process for BADS compliant apartment buildings will deliver better apartments in neighbourhoods. A more certain planning framework will incentivise developers to deliver better apartments, as they can bring this better apartment product to market more quickly.

Andrea Towson, Arnold Bloch Leibler


Are Wills Enough? The ‘Make Up’ of a Proper Estate Plan An estate plan is not just about preparing or updating a person’s Will, it requires a comprehensive review of a person’s current asset and financial structure to ensure that all assets owned by that person, whether personally or via a corporate structure, are properly succeeded to the next generation. An estate plan typically consists of the following documents: –A Will (which either incorporates or does not incorporate a life interest, superannuation proceeds trust or testamentary trust structure); –O ne or more Enduring Powers of Attorney (in Victoria there are two types: Enduring Power of Attorney Financial/Personal matters and Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker); –S uperannuation death benefit nominations (binding or non-binding and consideration of transfer balance caps); and –S tatement of Wishes, Buy-Sell Agreements/Shareholder’s Agreements and/or amendments to existing Family Trust Deeds or Self-Managed Superannuation Fund Trust Deeds in relation to entities controlled by the individual.

–A ny person in an interdependent relationship with you, being a person who is in a close personal relationship with you, lives with you and one or each of you provides the other with financial support or personal care; and/or – Your Estate (where such super will then pass under your Will) If you do not make a BDBN or such BDBN has lapsed by the time of your death, the trustee of your super fund then has the discretion to determine which superannuation dependants and/or your estate will receive your superannuation death benefit. Contesting a Will in Victoria In Victoria, if a person has been left without adequate provision from a deceased estate, they may be able to contest the Will. Such action is called a ‘Testator’s Family Maintenance Claim’ or ‘TFM claim’. On 1 January 2015, changes were made to the Victorian legislation in relation to persons who may be entitled to bring a Testator’s Family Maintenance Claim. The changes apply to estates where the Deceased died on or after this date. All other states and territories have different laws in respect of contesting a Will/Estate. In Victoria, an ‘eligible’ claimant has 6 months from date of grant of probate to bring a Testator’s Family Maintenance claim.

What to Consider When Preparing or Reviewing an Estate Plan – Who is involved in that individual’s personal or business affairs? – Is it a blended family? –A re there children or grandchildren under the age of 18 years or with a disability, in financial difficulty or who are in a troubled relationship? – Has that individual separated or been divorced? – Has that individual recently married? –A re there generational planning issues to consider, such as does that individual have wealthy parents who will then leave a significant inheritance to them on their death or does that person have children in the generation Y or Z category that are not interested in continuing the family business? The Necessity of Making Sure your Superannuation Fund is up to date with your Will’s Instructions Superannuation does not automatically form part of the assets that pass under your Will. This is because your Will only covers the assets that you in fact own in your personal capacity, such as your house, car, savings and other personal items. A Binding Death Benefit Nomination (BDBN) is a binding legal document that you can sign and give to your super fund that directs the trustee of your super fund as to which beneficiaries you have nominated to receive your superannuation should you pass away. Many funds still require that a BDBN be refreshed every 3 years in order that it remains binding in nature. The individuals that can be nominated as beneficiaries in a BDBN are limited to the following category of dependants: – Your CURRENT spouse (defacto or married); – Your children (of any age);

The following people can bring a TFM claim in Victoria: –S pouse of Domestic Partner at the time of death. The spouse must be married to the deceased as at the date of death. A domestic partner may be a in a ‘registered’ or ‘unregistered’ relationship with the deceased as at the date of death; –F ormer Spouse or Domestic Partner as at the date of death who was able to take proceedings against the deceased under the Family Law Act and who did not take such proceedings and was prevented by the death of the deceased from taking them, or, who did take proceedings and could not finalise them because of the death of the deceased or property settlement has not yet been finalised; –C arers can only bring a claim if they are in a ‘registered caring relationship’ as defined under the Family Law Act 1975 and that the relationship was with the deceased. A relationship of this nature must not be for a ‘fee or reward’ and between two people who are not a couple or married to each other. – Children, who are defined as: - Under 18 years of age; or - Was a full time student aged between 18 and 25 years; or -H as a disability (as defined in Section 90 of the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic); -A stepchild, or adopted child of the deceased, subject to the categories listed above. As of 10 May 2017, children who have been brought into a de-facto relationship are now deemed to be ‘stepchildren’ of that relationship for the purposes of identification as an ‘eligible person;’ -A n adult child (including a stepchild) who has difficulty supporting their financial needs. The adult child claimant must demonstrate the degree to which he or she is not capable by reasonable means of adequately providing for their own proper maintenance and support; -A n ‘assumed child,’ this is where the child was treated by the deceased as a natural child.


Death With No Will Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul, died without a Will on 16 August this year, survived by four adult sons who were to benefit from her estate on intestacy. However, an on and off again partner of Aretha’s is now seeking a slice of her estate! Similarly, another legendary singer Prince, who died in April 2016, leaving an estate worth about $200 million but no Will. Although, under the relevant intestacy laws of Minnesota, a Court declared that his six siblings were the entitled beneficiaries to his estate given that he was not survived by a partner or children, several people have since made a claim on his estate, including individuals purporting to be his earlier unknown wife, sibling, child and distant relative. Unfortunately, leaving no Will or an invalid Will can often lead to a will dispute (sometimes referred to as a will contest or TFM) which stalls the distribution of the estate and, further, results in the diminution of the estate because of the incurrence of legal fees.

As accredited specialists in the area of Wills and Estates and recommended by the Doyle’s Guide in 2018 and 2019 as leading in the area of estate planning and estate litigation, we cater for all succession services pre-death and post-death which enables us to have the experience to equip your clients with advice as to how to best structure their affairs during the planning stage. If you wish to discuss how you can prepare your estate plan in a way that minimises the incidence of any will dispute, or alternatively, you are seeking advice as to whether you are an eligible applicant for the purposes of contesting a deceased person’s estate, please contact me directly on 0402 841 433.

— Teresa Catalano Managing Principal, iWills Legal Law Institute of Victoria – Accredited Specialist Wills and Estates P: +61 3 9598 9489

There are ways in which such will dispute claims can be minimised with proper legal advice at the time of preparing your Wills and estate plan. iWills Legal can assist you in all areas of estate planning, business succession, estate administration and estate litigation (across all Australian jurisdictions) and will not only provide you with legal advice and legal documents, but will also ensure that the solution provided is practical and commercial, and the most cost-effective.

Level 35/600 Bourke Street, Melbourne Level 1, 2 Small Street Hampton


The Sun Sets on Developer Rights Following lengthy discussions in 2018, The Sale of Land Amendment Bill 2019 passed through the Parliament. The new Sunset Provisions will give greater power to purchasers in off-the-plans contracts. The amendments will severely limit the right of developers to cancel contracts that have extended past their ‘sunset periods’. Currently, the act does not prohibit a developer from rescinding an off-the-plan contract of sale by the sunset date if: – the plan of subdivision has not been registered; or – an occupancy permit has not been issued. Generally, developers must have made all reasonable endeavours to register the plan or to obtain the permit within the sunset period. How do Developers Use Sunset Provisions? Sunset provisions enable developers to cancel contracts and re-sell if delays are incurred that are out of their control. Often developers encounter unexpected issues with authorities and other third parties which can lead to increased expenses and interest payments on loans. However, these provisions create uncertainty for purchasers whose plans for future homes may never eventuate. A number of recent cases have also identified that developers may be exploiting these provisions by delaying works, cancelling contracts and re-selling for higher profits. However, in the current market such cases are becoming rarer. The proposed amendments are basically consistent with the NSW provisions and aim to provide greater protection to purchasers. What are the Key Changes? Interestingly, the proposed amendments will come into operation in a staggered manner with the first amendments being introduced retrospectively. Some of the key changes are as follows: From August 23 (back-dated): A vendor must not rescind an off-the-plan contract under a sunset clause except for as provided below. Subject to the below, a vendor may rescind a residential off-the-plan contract under a sunset clause if: a) the plan of subdivision has not been registered by the sunset date; or b) an occupancy permit has not been issued by the sunset date. Before rescinding under a sunset clause, the vendor must obtain the written consent of each purchaser to the rescission after giving each purchaser at least 28 days written notice, setting out: a) the reason why the vendor is proposing to rescind; b) the reason for the delay; and c) t hat the purchaser is not obliged to consent to the proposed rescission. A provision of a residential off-the-plan contract has no effect to the extent that it is inconsistent with the above. It is also confirmed that the above amendments apply to residential off-the-plan contracts entered into before the commencement of these amendments.


These amendments will not affect any proceeding concerning the effect or operation of a sunset clause that was commenced prior to the bill being passed. From the date that the Bill passes and it receives Royal Assent: A vendor may apply to the Supreme Court for an order permitting them to rescind the contract under a sunset clause. The Court may order reasonable compensation to the purchaser. The Vendor is liable to pay the costs of a purchaser in relation to the proceeding for such an order unless the Vendor satisfies the Court that the purchaser was acting unreasonably. The above amendments apply to residential off-the-plan contracts entered into before the commencement of these amendments. From ‘a day to be proclaimed’ (or 1 March 2020): A sunset clause in a residential off-the-plan contract must include a statement that: a) the vendor is required to give notice of a proposed rescission of the contract; b) t he purchaser has the right to consent to the proposed rescission but is not obliged to do so; c) t he Vendor has the right to apply to the Supreme Court for an order permitting them to rescind the contract; and d) the Court may make an order permitting the rescission. It will be an offence not to include this statement. This clause does not apply to contracts entered into before the operation of this provision. Summary You should be aware of the amendments, especially those that may function retrospectively. Any purported action by a developer after 23 August 2018 with regards to cancelling an off-the-plan contract pursuant to a sunset clause may be deemed invalid. Caution should be taken if the developer plans to re-sell any lot that was cancelled after 23 August. Legal advice should be sought if a developer has already re-sold any lot that was cancelled after 23 August. Developers should also seek to update their contract of sale to be consistent with the amendments. Please feel free to contact a member of our property law team to discuss these proposed amendments.

— Yoni Ungar Lawyer, tlfc P: +61 3 8600 9333


The High Life Apartment standards have come a long way in recent years. No longer a temporary solution for students or weekend stays, interiors are now generously proportioned, refined, functional and practical, attracting a new generation of owner-occupiers. Purchasers are seeking prestigious, liveable spaces that they can share with family and friends… a home, not a marketing fantasy. When Mim Design first approaches the design philosophy of a multi-residential development we consider many important factors including brief, budget and location. However, we approach high-end developments a little differently. Our design theory starts as any single residential project would; focusing on the surrounding aspect. Whether it be lush greenery, city views or suburban rooftops, the way we connect with the outside world undeniably contributes to how we connect with interior spaces. This is no ordinary apartment; we are designing a space that is inviting, considered and unique. Our approach is therefore customised and conscious delivering a home beyond the typical constructs of apartment development. Northern sunlight not only provides us with radiant sun-drenched rooms, it also highlights the depth and tone of quality materials and finishes. Natural stone, timber and polished plaster (all synonymous with timeless design) come into their own in natural daylight. Revealing an innate complexity and intensity, which is otherwise dormant. From day to night, the transition into evening lighting should be approached gradually. Moving away from downlights (which can be severe and uncomfortable) concealed LEDs and ambient lighting provide a subtle backdrop paving the way for feature pendants, floor lamps and wall lights that contribute to the design philosophy and interior styling holistically. Not only functional, we use light and reflection to inspire movement and playfulness within residences. Mirrored walls, joinery or objects echo natural light throughout the interior and reflect the all-important surrounding aspect. When procuring furnishings, art and styling we embrace items that tell a story and add personality to the homes of our clients. Objects are carefully curated; considering scale, colour and texture whilst often mixing original, vintage or personal objects with contemporary modern design. The result is a unique and layered biography of our clients’ lives and identities, building character holistic to the interior language. When planning we consider the way our clients will live and furnish the space; it must be functional, effortless and suitable for their lifestyle. Yet, high-end developments set aside the formal principal of a ‘room’ bound by walls. Generous proportions enable open spaces connected by fluid movement and ease, blurring the lines of traditional interior spatial planning and design. Kitchens no longer resemble a traditional form, rather, an extension of the living space. An island bench (although a functional work space) is seen more so as a centrepiece, a sculptural object and talking point where you gather and entertain. The Master Bedroom removes boundaries between your WIR and Ensuite, ensuring an efficient layout and visible aspect from each space. Creating zones which ebb and flow from one practical use to the next allows interior design to be truly holistic and creative. Within our ever-expanding cities the convenience and allure of high-end apartment living is gaining more popularity. However we believe that every development no matter how big or small should hold a legacy within the landscape. Every project holds an opportunity to create something unique and custom; a home that is a joy to live in.


— Charlotte McGill Associate Interior Designer Amelia Wainwright Stylist and Designer P: +61 3 9826 1266


Development and Project Management I am often asked, what is the most important part of the development cycle? The answer is that every stage is important but if you were to pick one, then selecting your site would be the most critical. Unfortunately, a lot of people make mistakes at this point when they purchase the site. They proceed through the motions of design and application, then get a permit only to realise that the project is not feasible as a development. The design is poor or not maximised and/or they get an agent involved too late and start the marketing to get pre sales, only to realise the price estimates for sales they used for the feasibility are not realistic or the Gross realisable value is not great enough to justify the project carrying on. There are a myriad of other common reasons the site may not stack but whichever way you look at it, its important to do your homework before you purchase! For starters, using a good real estate agent or buyers advocate that understands your requirements and the area you want to purchase in can help mitigate risk in the early stages by advising on location and providing realistic comparable sales for both the purchase and resale of a proposed scheme. The next stage is also crucial, preparing a detailed feasibility including advice and schematics from an architect that understands development and then advice from a good town planner to ensure what has been designed is likely to get support and there are no obvious site constraints that could effect the design like trees or overlays. It's also critical to make sure you have a good grasp on what the project will cost. A great way to achieve this without wasting time and money is to make an offer with a due diligence period. That way you have the price and terms agreed while you do the appropriate due diligence feeling secure that no one can buy the property in the meantime. Once you have purchased your site its important to build a design team that is experienced not only in development but also in the area your site is located. Each areas demographic, design style, amenity and quality expectation is different and because of this it is also critical to keep your agent involved at all stages as they know the buyer of the product you are creating better than anyone. When you are happy with the design it’s a good idea to have a pre application meeting with council to make sure what you are proposing is likely to receive support from council. If there are any issues town planning want changed you can save time by addressing them here rather than later as part of any requests for further information, its also a good idea to build a rapport with the planner that is likely to be handling your application. When your application has progressed and you have a good indication your application will be approved, its time to get all your branding and marketing ready so you can get as many pre sales as possible. This is another stage that is critical to have involvement from your real estate agent. Also at this stage the design team will be working hard getting all the project documentation together and preparing the tender pack. It’s important in my opinion, to have a builder involved during the documentation stage as the build type, engineering and detailed drawings have a major impact on the cost and also timeline of the build. A good builder will be able to assist in keeping the design as efficient and cost effective as possible.


Pick a builder that you want involved in the tender (preferably your first choice) to help with cost engineering and documentation on the understanding that you will give them the first and last right to complete the project depending on their price. Building is one of those situations where cheapest is often not best and can get you into trouble easily, which happens on many occasions. Sometimes builders are desperate for work and not in a financially stable position and may come in very cheap to win the job and then either try and negotiate the price up later or even worse go bankrupt in the process leaving you with an unfinished site and a really difficult situation. Other times they realise that the job is not profitable and cut corners to save money leaving you with a poorly finished product and a dispute to handle as well as possible issues later on with owners. More often than not the best builder for the job will not be the cheapest or the most expensive but somewhere in the middle. It’s also really important to choose the right contract and its common practice in commercial building to have a contract prepared by the developer/client attached to the tender pack. The builders are then aware of any conditions as part of the tender package. If you have no experience in building, it’s a great idea to get a project manager involved from the documentation stage onwards as a minimum, as their experience and knowledge will often save more money then their fees as well as saving time in the process. A project manager can advise throughout documentation, will monitor the schedule and the quality, as well as approving stage payments and assessing and approving variations. A project manager can also perform the role of superintendent acting for and on behalf of the contract. When your project is complete, handover has happened and all purchasers have settled, its important to review the entire process as well as completing an actual P&L and timeline. You can then compare this with the projected P&L and timeline as this will hone your feasibility model preparing you for the next one. In summary, the over arching point is that you should seek advice at all stages of the development process and listen to the chosen professionals in each field and be careful of some real estate agents quoting lofty prices on re sale in an attempt to get the listing. So many speculators allow ego to guide their decisions, or fear that someone will think they don’t know everything and so they bluff their way through and don’t take the important advice, a successful project takes many hands and it can be a great process to be involved in when it is done correctly. — Greg Adshead Owner, Lumiere Development Management Group M: +61 418 141 103


Modern Technology: How VR is changing

The design process is shifting. As we move forward in both the digital and architectural worlds, Virtual Reality allows us to design collaboratively, engaging with stakeholders from any background. This in turn allows us to give back positive urban outcomes to the community. As designers, we’re excited by the possibilities this technology affords us and how we can use it to strengthen our projects, now and into the future.


the design landscape

VR has become one of the most powerful devices to the modern designer. Stepping beyond the screen and into the immersive world of VR allows us an unprecedented level of visualisation, changing the way space and place are created. If you’ve never used VR before, imagine this: as you place the headset over your eyes, you’re transported from the room in which you stand, into the design. You can walk through it as if it had been built around you instantly, at 1:1 scale. You’re taken beyond the 2D world, and this is where the brilliance of it lies. We can know exactly how a space feels, how it is to walk around it and look at it closely and from afar to truly experience the design. This gives us a far more intimate understanding of the space than any screen-based model or paper sketch ever can. As architects, we can use this experience to create a more holistic, integrated project which is a crucial part of designing any space. Creating long lasting and considered design outcomes benefits all parties, from clients and residents, to the wider urban community. From sketch design all the way through to construction, VR can be used to aid any stage of a project. We have found it to be an excellent tool for clients and consultants, allowing us to workshop the design in real time while the client walks through the model. Its value, however, truly shines in Town Planning and VCAT. In a single sitting, an expert witness can explore the model in incredible depth. They can fully understand the relationship of the building to the surrounding context, how it integrates and activates the streetscape, what elements are seen from the footpath or across the road, how an occupant may or may not overlook a neighbouring property. This in turn allows them to prepare strong, evidence-based arguments or make informed design suggestions for the betterment of the project. Beyond this, VR can also aid in community engagement, being able to show the local neighbourhood how a project will look and feel in their street. This collaborative design process ensures we’re designing architecture of place, with a strong net community benefit.

Beyond planning, VR turns its hand from a design tool to a sales tool. In much of our Multi-Residential work, we have found that getting a developer, agent or purchaser into the virtual world really allows them to connect with a project. Pitching ideas to potential clients through VR offers a personal level of engagement, helping to building a strong pathway of communication from the outset. Purchasers, who may not have any experience with architectural documentation, can fully understand our design and thus align it with their own expectations and desires. For us, this is an incredibly rewarding process. Every person we walk through VR becomes another opportunity to share our knowledge and hopefully help them engage with the architecture around them on a deeper level. Our cities are growing and changing at rapidly increasing pace. The digital and architectural worlds go hand in hand in this modern landscape and technology allows us to understand this growth and change more than ever before. As a younger generation of clients and purchasers emerges, so does the flexibility and transparency of the design process and we can’t wait to see what comes next.

— Will Leaf Managing Director, Ewert Leaf P: +61 3 9686 2100


Past Project Profile

Highgreen 1457 High Street Glen Iris

Anderson Park 585 Burke Road Camberwell




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Verse 18 Wilkinson Road Sunshine

Eastbridge 833 High Street Kew East



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Celebrating over 120 Successful Sell Outs Since the inception of Marshall White Projects in 2013 we’ve attempted to provide a insight into the ever changing world of property development by sharing the hard earnt lessons of those in the field and generous enough to share their experiences for the betterment of their peers. Marshall White Projects has evolved as a team, maturing in a market where buyers learn to expect more than ever before whilst developers must work harder to achieve the same results. They say knowledge is power, so we invite you to click on the button below and enjoy the resource of our first publication through to today.


+61 3 9832 1191 1111 HIGH STREET, ARMADALE VIC 3143

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