Yin and Yang

3rd March 2014

"… an amphitheatre of quiet spectacular features …"
- Jeff Copolov, Bates Smart

With its undulating form, Convesso Concavo fits right into the physical landscape of Victoria Harbour, as well the psychic one. Rowena Robertson spoke about the concept behind the project with Jeffery Copolov from Bates Smart, the development’s architects.

Perhaps you’re lucky enough to reside in Convesso already; perhaps you’re simply an admirer. Whatever the case, this residential building is some of the most distinctive architecture at Victoria Harbour, and with its ‘twin’ Concavo now well on the way, we’re soon to see the project as it was always intended to be seen.

Situated right on the water, the two northfacing towers are set in “an amphitheatre of quite spectacular features” as Jeffery Copolov of Bates Smart, the buildings’ architects, asserts. ( These include the Bolte Bridge, the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, Etihad Stadium and, of course, the water.) “We think it’s probably the finest spot in Docklands.”

The buildings were conceived as the Yin and Yang to each other; they were intended to be read in harmony and be linked by a strong fluidity. “There is the idea that the two buildings face each other – when you arrive you get glimpses through to the water,” says Copolov. “By having the laneway in between we created a mini civic square – both lobbies face onto this square, so there’s a hub of activity, but you also have landscape that takes you through to the water’s edge beyond.”

A ‘fluid’ theme is also present in the actual form of the buildings: the design references the undulations of the water. In addition, careful consideration has been given to the tones of the exterior.

“The colours we used are very much about reflecting the watery qualities and keeping it modern, light and bright,” says Copolov.

Copolov was the recipient of the Gold Medal at the 2013 Interior Design Excellence (IDEA) Awards, and Convesso Concavo’s interiors show his skill and close attention to making these apartments as sympathetic to their environment and as homelike as possible. This is in keeping with Bates Smart’s approach to interiors in general – the firm believes in affording them as much importance as the exterior. “A lot of people say they go into a Bates Smart building and they get a sense it’s a Bates Smart building,” says Copolov. “I think that’s about design execution and resolution and substance. I think you go into a lot of interiors that haven’t really been thought out by an interior designer, as opposed to an architect.”

As with the exterior, the fundamental concept for the Convesso Concavo interiors was “light, fresh and bright”. Windows in the apartments are mostly full height, and there are generous balconies and terraces. The design allows light to flow in and bounce through each apartment; the rippling water from outside is atmospherically reflected as dappled light on the ceilings and on the undersides of eaves.

Bates Smart has been keen to create “timeless” interiors for the buildings. “The interiors won’t date – they’re clearly contemporary, but not based only on the latest trends,” says Copolov. “There’s a sufficient play between having personality and being beautifully designed and detailed, and allowing the purchasers to implant their own personality onto an interior that doesn’t dominate the furnishings and art they want to add.”

Public spaces, such as the communal residents’ lounge in Concavo, have been treated as extensions of the residents’ own domestic space and detailed accordingly. “We’ve really treated [the lounge] like a very large comfortable, contemporary family room,” says Copolov. “It’s designed in a really tasteful, contemporary, chic, light, bright, friendly – not brooding – way. It’s all about keeping the elements light and using real materials – stones, textured linens and fabrics, timbers with quite exposed grains.”

Apartment living is becoming more and more popular in Melbourne, and Copolov is uniquely placed to identify its appeal. He believes it’s all about convenience, and value for money. “There’s the convenience of having things taken care of for you – there’s a concierge, the maintenance is done. It’s about taking away the problems of contemporary urban life … If you think about modern life, all of our pressures mean that there’s less and less time to do things you don’t necessarily want to do, like look after the place. We like to think our apartments are well thought through and make living easy.”

Copolov is animated about how he believes Docklands is the ideal spot for apartment living, and also about Victoria Harbour more specifically. “With any urban environment, there’s a certain amount of wear that it needs. It’s like a beautiful handbag or pair of shoes … I think Victoria Harbour is starting to reach that point; in another five, ten years it’s going to feel even better than it does already. I think the great thing about this place is it’s one of the great sites to begin with, so it’s got a massive head start.”

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