A new Republic for Canberra
1 December 2016
Canberra’s first glass towers and tallest building are just two of the striking features unveiled today of what will become the capital’s largest mixed-use development.
To be known as “Republic”, the 1.6 hectare $700 million GEOCON development is located on the corner of Cameron Avenue, Eastern Valley Way and Emu Bank in Belconnen, overlooking Lake Ginninderra and adjacent to GEOCON’s Wayfarer project.
Republic is the biggest project to date for the developer, which will be built in three stages over 10 years commencing from late 2017 and will employ 2,500 workers over the life of the project.
GEOCON Managing Director Nick Georgalis said Republic was an exciting project that would bring NewActon style living and entertainment to Belconnen.
“We’ve put together the same world-leading design team – Fender Katsalidis Architects and OCULUS, that created NewActon to produce something really special for this part of Canberra.
“GEOCON’s mantra is ‘Building Canberra’ and Republic will add another 1300 apartments to the 1100 we have currently under construction across the city.
“This is in addition to a 130-room hotel under our Abode Hotels brand, a live performance theatre, an urban park and fantastic public spaces, as well as restaurants, cafes, retail and commercial spaces a dedicated bike hub and bicycle parking. The existing carpark will be replaced with more than 500 car spaces for public use in addition to private spaces for residents.
“Belconnen is now 50 years old. Only in the last couple of years has it really been considered a vibrant precinct where people want to visit after the sun goes down. The University of Canberra and the AIS are important educational facilities in the area, but they’ve not been strongly linked to the waterfront.
“Our almost complete Wayfarer development across the road, together with Republic, will provide that link and add the vibrancy that will push Belconnen further along to becoming an entertainment destination. The town centre won’t empty at 5pm when the large government departments close. Instead, you’ll get an inflow of people heading home and releasing people onto the streets during the evening.”
Mr Georgalis said GEOCON developments went beyond simply putting up apartments, but delivering unparalleled amenities and improving housing affordability.
“In projects such as Wayfarer, Southport (Tuggeranong) and Infinity (Gungahlin), one bedroom apartments started at around $250,000 – a price point that means almost anyone can enter the market. That’s $200 per week at current interest rates – less than renting for a couple. Then two-bedroom apartments situated just 15 mins from the city centre are around $360,000. Sydney and Melbourne can’t compete with that sort of affordability.
“We are focused also on building communities and all our developments include spectacular communal spaces. Republic is a great showcase of that, through its sky deck, the way the buildings are arranged around a large public square acting as the ‘heart’ of the development and the interconnected laneways and ‘green stairs’ that create a thoroughfare to this central meeting place.
“What’s important is that the community has had an input into this development. We’ve had a comprehensive community consultation process underway since June this year to listen to local people and use their feedback to refine what we are doing.
“I grew up here and went to school just up the road at Lake Ginninderra College, so I think I’ve grown up with the city. This is a very different place to what it was 40 years ago. Canberra’s now awesome. It’s a place you can learn with the best in the world. You can be creative, you can be an entrepreneur and it’s a great place to raise a family.
“I want to continue contributing to building a national capital that we can all be proud of and that is growing into the modern, sophisticated, sustainable metropolis it ought to be.”
Sharing their passion for urban densification is the team GEOCON has engaged to help write the Republic story. Architect David Sutherland of Fender Katsalidis Architects said the presence of Republic would reinforce Lake Ginninderra as a recreational focus of Belconnen through the strengthening of linkages to its foreshores.
OCULUS Landscape Architect Bob Earl said the design capitalised on the site’s unique setting to create a permeable public domain with ground floor retail activation, a hotel, community facilities, public square and lush, communal and private gardens elevated above the public domain.
“The design celebrates the natural level changes through the addition of ‘green’ stairs that cascade down to the street from the town square. The stairs have mass planting as a feature element as well as a potential water feature that will assist with way-finding and add to the ambience of the space,” Mr Earl said.