Seafarers: The Melbourne apartments where you can live luxuriously and sustainably

As featured in Domain, Seafarers and Australia’s first 1 Hotel, located on the Yarra River in the Northbank of Melbourne, place sustainability front and centre.

It’s not difficult to find an example of a project where the developer and their creative team are making some effort towards sustainability. Perhaps they’ll concentrate on good cross-ventilation in apartment design, the installation of LED lighting, or sourcing materials from a local supplier.

What is unusual is to come across a project where the eco-friendly initiatives are a key driver behind an entire development.

Seafarers and Australia’s first 1 Hotel, located on the Yarra River in the Northbank of Melbourne, place sustainability front and centre. The project, by developer Riverlee, comprises 123 Nonda Katsalidis designed residences sitting above a 277-guest room hotel from an international hotel brand with an emphasis on sustainable luxury.

Residents will have access to the 5-star hotel services and amenities, such as a state-of-the-art wellness center and a stunning lobby bar, as well as resident-only amenities including a library and a rooftop garden.

Inspired by the flora and fauna of Victoria’s coast and country, the hotel aims to instil lasting behavourial change through spontaneus interactions and moments of mindfulness.

The Seafarers team are also putting in place measures to ensure the project’s eco-friendly approach extends to the surrounding environment. To safeguard the quality of the Yarra, a natural filtration strategy will be used to capture rain and stormwater, including within the new 3500-square-metre public park, Seafarers Rest, which will be adjacent to the building and will incorporate a number of new native trees and open space.

Development director David Lee says Riverlee took the foundation of 1 Hotel – to live green while still living luxuriously – and chose to “wrap” the whole project with the same ethos in a bid to leave the world a better place.

“As developers and city shapers, we seek to minimise our impact on nature, the surrounding environment and nearby communities,” Lee says. “At Riverlee, it’s important to not only create buildings and developments that last, but to build them with consideration of history and the environment.”

Riverlee engaged architects Fender Katsalidis, residential interior designers Carr, hotel interior designers One Design Office and landscape architects Oculus for the project. Fender Katsalidis director Nicky Drobis says everyone embraced the eco-friendly approach.


Guest rooms have water filtration systems.

“There have been careful considerations across the entire Seafarers project that strive for exceptional outcomes,” she says.

“From abundant natural light in the residences, to wellness facilities for residents and the use of recycled and sustainable materials where possible, community consciousness is embedded throughout.”

The impressive list of sustainable features starts with the building materials already on site, with timber and steel from the existing heritage shed salvaged and reused.

“There are two kilometres-worth of original Oregon timbers from the heritage shed being reused across the hotel fit-out, lining the common areas and guest rooms,” says Drobis. “We’ve also salvaged the pier timber piles and steel shed roof trusses.”

Riverlee’s aim was to not just meet Green Star 5 Star ratings, but exceed them, so when sourcing new materials the company used ecologically responsible suppliers. Drobis says these included a steel manufacturer and a concrete supplier proactively reducing its carbon emissions by using at least 30 per cent recycled materials in its products.

One of the highlights of the build are the modular porcelain kitchens from Snaidero, an Italian company that uses water-based coatings, low emission panels, energy efficient motors and solar panels at its production plants.

“Snaidero uses FSC [Forest Stewardship Certification] timbers and can dismantle and recycle kitchen materials at the end of a kitchen’s life,” says Drobis.

Insulation and wall linings are made with recycled materials that are durable, low maintenance and ethically produced, and the development uses low VOC paints, adhesives, carpets and wall coverings, and naturally dyed fabrics where possible.

The high-performance glazed façade is one of several elements that exceed building code requirements and Drobis says both the apartments and hotel have been designed to capture high levels of natural daylight. In addition, unlike many hotels, the guest rooms have natural ventilation and a water filtration system to eliminate single use plastics.

“It’s simple, but important,” says Drobis, who adds to the list of inclusions other “simple” solutions like water-efficient tapware, a master switch to turn off all power (fridge excluded) to address the standby power load problem, and a water-cooled, energy-efficient air-conditioning system.

The 3500-square-metre public park, Seafarers Rest, will incorporate a number of new native trees and open space.

Green transport will be another feature of the precinct, with electric vehicle charging infrastructure in place, abundant bicycle parking, and the nearest tram stop a two-minute walk away.

Riverlee’s goal is to recycle 80 per cent of construction waste and once up and running, the hotel’s clever waste management systems will help direct waste away from landfill.

Drobis says it’s not only about doing the right thing for the environment but about future proofing these buildings with an understanding of their entire life cycle.

“Within the property industry it’s incumbent on all of us to take sustainability seriously. Knowing the great partnership between Riverlee and 1 Hotel, we feel quite privileged to be part of the project.”