David Bertram, Director of Sturt Land, has been developing commercial and residential property in Sydney, Perth and Adelaide since the late 1980s. He has built a reputation for creating interesting, iconic structures using innovative quality materials. These major projects have focused on the creation of elegant living spaces with an emphasis on landscaping and creating environments which people can enjoy.
David, could you tell me how you came to know Neil?
I met Neil through his employment at Overman and Zuideveld. Fred Zuideveld and Neil were working with us on the development of a project which went on to become the Upper Eastside Apartments in Perth.
How would you describe that project?
We had a block of land that we were looking to tender on. We asked Fred and Neil to create a plan for us. It’s a pretty unique block. It had views and we wanted to create something that was going to allow for the view corridor to be evident from each of the apartments. We were keen to optimise the amount of light and space in each apartment.
We ended up creating a property that was ten stories high with one level of car parking. It consisted of 32 exclusive apartments with private lobbies for every two apartments. The building was effectively two buildings side by side. It was designed this way to maximise the views and it had lots of light and it had enjoyable amenity all the way through.
Each of the apartments were similar in size. They were about 160 metres internally with large outdoor balcony areas. The ideology behind the building was to create spaces that people could experience indoor and outdoor living.
At the time that we went to the market in Perth it was an unusual product to be constructing. We had materials that weren’t necessarily expensive but were unique in terms of quality, finish, and style. We went for a very simplistic type of design that had longevity and would end up creating spaces that would stand the test of time. The materials selection was important. It wasn’t over the top but it was certainly high end.
The market that we were trying to attract was an older style community for the 45 plus age group. We were creating vertical homes rather than just creating small apartment type dwellings.
How would you describe Neil as an architect?
Neil has excellent insight. He’s got a terrific eye for detail and he gets the client brief. He also knows how to create spaces that are interesting, that create unusual elements and are not kitsch.
It’s classical and elegant design. Neil has a wonderful knowledge of different materials and finishes and colours and how they will blend together to create some pretty amazing spaces.
What did you feel about the project when it was completed?
I felt very proud of it. It was an excellent development, very classical and one of those structures that still is, to this day, iconic. The market place responded well to the finished product and it achieved all of the goals that we sought to achieve when we sat down and drafted it all on paper.
Would you recommend Neil and what would be your major reasons for that?
I would definitely recommend Neil. Particularly if someone wants a development or a dwelling that’s unique and an expression of who they are. If they’re looking for something that’s got a point of difference in the marketplace and takes advantage of its surrounds.
If you want something that’s going to be appreciated for a number of years to come. he can put in those hidden elements, those unusual components that make the difference between a house and a home.
What did you enjoy about working with him as a person?
In Neil’s work you can see his sensitivity, his awareness, his reflection and his consideration. He takes the time to ponder and come up with a result that’s sympathetic to the outcome. He’ll work on it until he’s got exactly what he’s looking for. His bespoke approach is what I enjoyed more than anything. Just tell everyone to spend their money with him, he’s a great architect.