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The Canberra Times | In The City Magazine | SPRING
Lead project manager for Molonglo Group's Nishi
development, James Bichard from Sydney Firm
Arup, was in a cab when he discovered the
term of endearment for the project.
"The cab driver said 'have you heard of this Nishi
project?' and I said 'a little bit'," James chuckles.
"He said apparently it's going to be this huge glass
pineapple and they're going to call it the pineapple.
"It was the first I'd heard of it but I was pretty
happy -- if people know about it and give it a fond
name it's already starting to become part of the
In fact, alongside environmental sustainability
and cutting-edge design, a focus on community was
paramount right from the project's early stages.
Once complete the mixed development will include
office and retail space and 235 residential apartments.
Add this level of density to the curated surrounds of
NewActon and James believes you have the recipe for
the type of borrow-a-cup-of-sugar neighbourhood of
"With this kind of high density living in an
environment like the NewActon precinct, and you've
got a vibrant, exciting place to live," James says.
"And safe as well -- there's no way anyway could
break into your apartment because there will be so
many people around and such a tight community built
"Living in it will be like being on holiday all the
Already the thriving precinct of NewActon offers
boutique shopping, dining and an arts program that
will only flourish to meet the growing need of its
micro-community. Residents of the precinct enjoy
the use of a communal herb garden that will soon be
accompanied by lemon trees and vegetables to use at
their discretion. Once Nishi is completed, it will add
the substance of the Department of Climate Change's
new headquarters, the leisure of Palace Cinema and
a street front lined by thoughtfully-selected boutique
restaurant and retail outlets to the precinct.
James reckons this will be the perfect anchor to City
West -- an area that Nishi sales manager Lori Cicchini
says used to be the "dead end" of Canberra.
"Before (the NewActon) precinct was here there
were two derelict buildings and nobody came to this
side of city," she says.
"Now it has this intense vibe that appeals to all
generations - it has its own personality."
The appeal of selling Nishi brought Lori "out of
retirement", and while construction of the pineapple
has reached ground level, Lori is already selling off the
She says there is no one source of Nishi's early
success -- rather, it is a building rich in superlatives,
pioneering in some ways and scrupulous in attention
to detail. Sustainable concepts penetrate every inch
of the structure, from the orientation of the building
positioned to profit from Canberra's particular climate
down to the meticulously-calculated angles of the
glass panels responsible for the distinctive "pineapple"
shape of the structure.
It's not the first time the team at Arup have worked
on a structure resembling a fruit. Responsible for the
sometimes notorious, sometimes celebrated Gherkin
in London, they are part of what could be labeled a
super troop assembled to turn the Nishi vision into
a reality. They join cutting-edge Japanese interior
design firm Suppose, architects Fender Katsalidis and
of course, Canberra's own Molonglo Group.
"It's definitely a world-class project and the driving
force behind it is the Molonglo Group," James says.
"I've always said Johnathan and Nectar are single-
handedly making Canberra cool. They're like the
directors of the film or the conductors of the orchestra,
and constantly having passion like theirs at the core of
the team has kept everyone producing the best work
we all can.
"Their love of Canberra and their love of this
community has led them to build a world-class
building to put Canberra on the map."
Project manager James Bichard paints a picture of a community-oriented bubble that will be life in a
Nishi apartment. BY DIONE VAN-HEER
Lori Cicchini and James Bichard in the Nishi Sales Suite & Gallery. Photo by Julia Karrer
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