Mount Street,West Perth WA
Robert Bird Group
He’s been called a visionary and a boundary pusher. One of his designs was criticised as “like putting Lady Gaga next to the Queen.” Meet Perth’s most innovative and controversial architect/developer.
Barry Baltinas is a man of many passions, beginning with his two children.Then there’s his work as one of Perth’s leading architects and most innovative developers.Add in his interest in meditation and yoga.And finally, some might say paradoxically, he has a long involvement in car racing.
Like most successful people, Barry spends his time juggling these activities but he doesn’t hesitate to give priority to his family. On the day we spoke, he was running between meetings and helping his 16-year-old son apply for a driving learner’s permit.
“I believe our greatest creation is our children. We are the architects of our beautiful children,” he reflects, adding that bringing up children is the hardest job in the world “and the most rewarding.”
Born and raised in Perth, Barry studied architecture at Curtin University but dropped out in year three to work as a scaffolder. It was an opportunity to earn high wages “but within 18 months I realised I wanted to go back to university. I used to observe the consultants and in particular the architects walking around on site with their plans rolled up and pointing at things, and I thought I’d rather be down there!”
Even in his uni days, Barry was a hustler, taking on private jobs, so it’s no surprise that a few years after graduation he was working for himself and involved in small subdivisions, buying and renovating houses, and building townhouses.
In the late ‘90s he moved into a city office and began designing larger scale projects, hitting the big time with the landmark Miami Apartments in West Perth.The Art Deco style was unlike anything seen before in the Western Australian capitol. In 2002 he won the Property Council of Australia’s Future Directions Young Achiever Award.
In that same year, with his reputation growing and opportunities opening, Barry made a decision that few of us would be brave enough to take. He shut down his city office to allow him to focus on looking after his two young children while working from home to finish off work in progress.
“I did that until about 2008, when I came back in and set my office up in the city, a small office at that point, and then started to slowly get back into what I had started six years prior.”
In that same year, his Art Deco-inspired Kingdom Apartments building was completed in South Perth. Soon after, Baltinas was drawn into controversy with his design proposal for a 20-storey apartment building adjoining the venerable Weld Club in Barrack Street. City of Perth’s planning committee approved the design although one councillor said “it’s pretty much like putting Lady Ga Ga (sic) next to the Queen”, and then adding that “it might be a very entertaining combination” and a point of difference!
The committee chairperson said it showed “no respect” for its heritage neighbour, an accusation that still rankles Barry who rejects the assertion, and claims that architecture must be relevant to today’s society and context. However, ultimately the project did not proceed.
His current business operations are divided into two streams: Baltinas Architecture and Baltinas Made under the collective banner of Baltinas Team.“We enjoy what we do as a studio, we love our architectural work, we’re very passionate about it,” Barry says, adding that it is important to work with like-minded clients who appreciate architecture.“But I have found that by doing our own projects” – under the Baltinas Made banner – “we get more freedom to do what we want. Obviously there is more responsibility because it has to be financially viable or that dream will be deflated very quickly.”
The latest Baltinas project is approaching completion in Mount Street,West Perth, adjacent to Kings Park. Halo on Mount has 21 apartments and two penthouses over its nine levels.The facade design is dotted by a series of circular windows, contrasting with the linearity of expressed Wintergarden Balconies with openable, sashless glazing that will allow use of these spaces across the seasons.
Austral Precast were contracted to manufacture the concrete wall panels at their plant in the south-eastern Perth suburb of Maddington. Production of the 597 panels took place over a twelve month period.
“Austral Precast has done a great job because we have some challenges there with curves, circular openings and the finishing,” Barry commends.The round openings had to be particularly precise to accommodate the imported prefabricated windows.
The building’s upper level is clad in curved precast panels.“It would have been cheaper to build the curved sections out of lightweight but we wouldn’t accept that option because of the need to maintain structural and aesthetic integrity, not just for first two or three years but over the long term.”
The curved panels were cast in specially-made steel forms using surprisingly conventional techniques.The steel reinforcement is wired into place and the form flooded with a slightly denser than usual concrete mix.The manufacturing team then works quickly to ensure the concrete is evenly dispersed and vibrated to expel any entrapped air pockets.
Austral Precast Delivers Innovative and Environmental Precast Solutions to Ground-Breaking Perth Development Halo on Mount
Australia’s leading manufacturer of precast concrete walling and flooring solutions, Austral Precast, has partnered with Baltinas Architects for Perth’s latest innovation in sustainable residential housing, Halo on Mount, helping to resolve some key design and environmental challenges.
The development, which comprises 21 apartments, two penthouses and a café, has been designed as a sustainable, timeless architectural statement, responding to cues from its parkland surroundings on Mount Street. Meanwhile, the development’s Unique façade of halo circular windows draws on the dynamic Perth cityscape, creating an ever-changing pattern of light and shade.
The complexity of the façade presented a unique design challenge, demanding the highest level of engineering skill for the design and manufacture of the precast mould. Baltinas Architects drew upon the expertise of the Austral Precast WA team, who engineered an innovative precast solution which creates a seemingly random pattern of circular openings on the façade while using a standard mould for repetitive casting.
The panels were manufactured from an exposed organic grey, black and brown aggregate mix, resulting in an enduring, natural look. They were then sealed in their natural form to prevent the need for ongoing maintenance that is often required with a painted façade.
Barry Baltinas from Baltinas Architects said, “Austral Precast was able to satisfy the builder’s timeline and capability requirements and the architect’s design brief, which required quality and detailed construction experience.”
Sustainability has beena key principle underpinning the design of Halo on Mount. Every aspect of the nine level building, from the solar panels and self-generating power to the use of rainwater tanks and low emission construction materials, have been considered to enhance sustainability performance.
Also helping Halo on Mount improve its eco-credentials is the use of precast concrete which is a solid, heavyweight material with a high thermal mass to help achieve optimum energy efficiency by reducing the impact of external temperature variations on the temperature of internal living areas.
Precast concrete is also manufactured locally and incorporates recycled materials such as fly ash, slag or silica fume, to reduce carbon emissions.
From a building perspective, the use of precast panels also has the added benefit of helping to mitigate construction risk by taking work off site where a project’s risk profile can be better managed. Off-site work also means the precast panel is produced under strictly controlled conditions in factories, resulting in better quality, accuracy and durability. Precast elements can then be scheduled to arrive ready for installation and lifted directly into place, to dramatically reduce construction time.
Due to its positioning along the Mitchell Freeway, noise reduction was also a major consideration in the design and choice of building materials for Halo on Mount. The same thermal mass that contributes to the sustainability of precast concrete also makes it an excellent sound insulator, reducing the intrusion of external noises into internal living areas. In addition, the tolerance for windows and doors at Halo on Mount are tight to prevent higher noise levels in the units, and precast has better control over tolerance than insitu construction.
Commenting on the new development, the State Manager at Austral Precast WA Peter Smith said, “Halo on Mount is a world-class, environmentally sustainable building and an exciting addition to the City’s west. The development provides an important example of how innovative, contemporary design coupled with cutting-edge technologies and environmental strategies can merge to create an architectural development not only of great visual complexity, but outstanding functionality and sustainability. Halo on Mount truly sets a new benchmark for Australian residential design excellence.
Austral Precast is proud to be involved in this landmark development, delivering our uniquely designed precast concrete solutions to meet the high standards of design, functionality and environmental sustainability set out by Baltinas Architects.”
Halo on Mount is scheduled to be completed in December 2014. For further information on the development, please visit www.haloonmount.com
For more information on products from Austral Precast, please visit www.australprecast.com.au
For media enquiries please contact Luci Finckh at City PR on (02) 9267 4511 or
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