With a career spanning 20 years of specialising in built forms, SJB urban design director, Amanda Roberts has worked across Australia and internationally creating new ways of living through sustainable design. We sat down with Amanda to hear her dream for Pace of Abbotsford.


What drew you to pursue a career in urban design?

I've always been interested in the way people move about the world. Urban design is the framework of our lives, it's the infrastructure that enables us to meet and engage with others. Good architecture enables greater quality of life and better relationships with each other and the environment. Thinking about that on a daily basis, and having those thoughts come to life is a privilege.


What's the best thing about working with Pace Development Group?

Pace are one of my favourite developers to work with. They're committed to responding to the unique neighbourhoods that Melbournians are so good at creating! They understand that their developments are situated in highly specific contexts, and each is unique because of it.


What were your key considerations for Pace of Abbotsford?

Respect and response to heritage of the St Crispin building's history and materiality, and the same respect for the local residents. This building looks and feels like it belongs to Abbotsford. It didn't need to be everything to everyone, but it did need to provide options for those who want a home and a community. That's why there's a mixture of 1, 2 & 3 bedroom townhouses and apartments; to attract a range of people from young couples, to families and downsizers with a variety of desires, that can all be served by the one development.


In what ways has the local character of the area shaped the design?

Abbotsford offers such a variety in terms of amenity from the eateries on Victoria Street to the local cafes, the Convent and Yarra Bend. We wanted to allude to that amenity throughout Pace of Abbotsford by giving residents multiple terraces, rooftop gardens, a barbeque area, gymnasium, a library and public-private spaces to enjoy.


How did you give the St Crispin Series a more exclusive, premium feel?

With the skilful interpretation of the existing building, our associate architect Beaudene Fulwood has created a design celebrating the heritage fabric in a rich and contemporary way. The rough, hand-cast bricks of the original facade are offset by clean lines and high-quality finishes in the flooring, fixtures and cabinetry. Residents of these north-facing, multi-level townhouses will experience an unparalleled quality of light coming through the re-purposed, original windows of St Crispin House.

These choices have been made out of respect for the building's heritage, and also in response to what will be a unique series in high demand.


How do you want people to feel when they step inside Pace of Abbotsford?

This project feels like it's knitting together a gap that existed between Abbotsford's industrial past and the creative, cultural melting pot it's become.

I want for the people who call Pace of Abbotsford home to feel like they're safe, welcomed, and that they've been knitted into the very fabric at the heart of the community.