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  • Boheme by Bates Smart. Photo: Brett Boardman


Bondi is a world renowned leisure destination and home to many Sydney-siders. Philip Vivian explains how Bates Smart’s Boheme development embraces this beachside community.

Bondi Beach is the archetypal leisure suburb. Bates Smart’s design for Boheme is a mixed use development in the heart of Bondi which caters for locals and tourists alike. In contrast to the beachfront tourist areas, we sought to engage with the local community to create an authentic place, which would become the heart of the Bondi’s built environment. To achieve this the building has been designed to be as open and accessible to the community as possible while maintaining privacy for residents and guests.

Boheme comprises restaurants, retail, serviced apartments and residential apartments that are integrated with Bondi’s local culture. The development has spaces that provide activation all year round, day and night. Bonheme invites the community in through a retail lined site link; art by local artists animates the public spaces and hotel areas; while the architecture evokes Bondi’s context through the use of materials, colours, street scale and rhythm.

Retail tenancies activate the Hall Street and O’Brien Street frontages on different levels. A two level through-site link aligned with Chambers Avenue is lined with retail and creates a genuine open air mid-block connection. An outdoor restaurant pavilion with a landscaped roof sits in the courtyard.

The 113 room serviced apartment hotel is located in a three-storey U shaped podium which complies with the DCP. Above the podium there are 44 residential apartments in the four storey volume of the former Halkoah Club with views of Bondi Beach and the neighbourhood. This form is above the Waverley DCP; thus to reduce its visual impact it is setback from the street front and curved to minimise its bulk.

The hotel has a dedicated lobby extending from the street to the outdoor courtyard. A sandstone wall constructed from stone quarried on site during the excavation connects inside to outside, while separating the public courtyard from the hotel lobby & pool.

The podium recalls the masonry context of Bondi Beach using randomly arranged precast panels to create a solid appearance. These panels are pigmented to authentically reflect the pastel colours of Bondi, without resorting to a paint finish. The podium is divided into 12m long coloured volumes relating to the historic subdivision pattern and the streetscape scale and rhythm.

The residential tower is expressed as a glassy, ethereal volume that conceptually floats above the masonry context and scale of Bondi. Its curvaceous form recalls art deco buildings, while reducing its visual mass. Continuous balconies provide solar shading, while glass balustrades extend below the floor slab for additional shading.

Numerous artworks have been incorporated into Boheme’s public spaces, including the through site link, and the carpark. The artworks of Bondi and Sydney based artists were selected to further activate these common spaces.

Boheme’s architectural strategy has enabled it to be fully integrated into the Bondi Beach environment and as a result it has been embraced by the local community as well as tourists as a place to shop, dine, live, stay, or relax.

Philip Vivian
Director, Bates Smart
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