Affordable housing takes centre stage as showstopping Bowden legacy piece revealed

A head-turning new residential building, designed by one of Australia’s most influential and visionary architectural firms, ARM, is set to redefine the Bowden skyline, and bring an abundance of new affordable housing options to the precinct.

Eighty-four apartments – 95% per cent of which will be affordable rentals – will be built along Third Street immediately opposite Plant 3 and 4 and next to South Australia’s largest built-to-rent project Kinleaf by Sentinel. Four of the 84 apartments will be Torrens titled warehouse lofts, which will face Second Street and be offered for sale.

The landmark project will be delivered by Renewal SA and operated long term by a Community Housing Provider (CHP), which will manage tenants of the studio, one-and-two-bedroom apartments. Specialist disability accommodation will also form part of the offering.

A new public multideck car park will be constructed on the lower levels of the 12-storey building, catering for around 221 cars. This includes resident parking, should they wish to couple a car park with their apartment rental, plus public car parks to service the Bowden precinct. The paid car park, which will be managed by a private commercial operator, will significantly reduce parking congestion for residents and visitors to Bowden, which has undergone a surge in popularity in recent years particularly at night and on weekends.

The car park is set to become an attraction in its own right, with sections of the walls and open roof deck to form a curated gallery of art as an ode to Bowden’s mural culture. Uniquely, its open-aired upper level has the capacity to serve a dual function as a public activation space. Events that could possibly be hosted within the space should it be utilised in this way, include fashion shows, moonlight cinema and urban sporting activities.

Reconstruction of Field Lane, connecting Third and Second streets, also forms part of the project and will act as a key pedestrian route, both day and night, between Plant 3 and 4 and the Bowden Train Station. Public art will fill the lane, along with a series of reclaimed bricks from Bowden’s industrial past. Opportunities are also being explored to incorporate Kaurna storytelling as part of a proposed link between Bowden and the former Brompton Gasworks, which is currently being remediated for future development by Renewal SA partner MAB Corporation. Consultation with Kaurna representatives will inform that proposal.

Other amenity within the eye-catching development include up to four ground floor retail or commercial spaces, and a seventh-floor private garden terrace for residents. The all-electric development will achieve a 5 Star Green Star Buildings rating and include 12 electric vehicle charging stations and solar arrays on its roof line and parts of the car park.

Site preparation for the multi-million-dollar development will commence in the coming months with the first residents scheduled to move in at the start of 2026.

Renewal SA Chief Executive Chris Menz said the development was a giant win for Bowden.

“Bowden demands clever design and construction, and this building will become a positive legacy for the precinct,” Mr Menz said. “It takes active measures to help ease the state’s current housing situation via the delivery of 80 affordable rental apartments in a market that is becoming more challenging for everyday working South Australians; it provides multiple opportunities to add to Bowden’s curation of retail spaces; and it provides provision for a permanent public car parking solution for the Bowden community.

“The building has also been designed for maximum adaptability, including a dual key arrangement for studio and two-bedroom apartments to become 3-bedroom apartments, and an ability to retrofit some of the car parking levels into housing should future demand require it.”

ARM Architecture Principal and Adelaide Studio Lead Philippe Naudin said his firm had been on a journey with Renewal SA to redefine what makes a neighbourhood feel like home; one that goes beyond meeting the basic criteria of functionality and affordability to weave in quality, history, and in this case, Bowden’s own narrative into the architecture.

“The design is inspired by Bowden’s industrial past, and its significant history contributing to building much of Adelaide. Our architecture translates aspects of this rich narrative through icons and recognisable motifs – house symbols, distinctive sawtooth roofs, repetitive truss patterns, even subtle nods to the iconic Clipsal fittings – creating a playful design language that’s both contextual and distinctive, paying homage to past stories and familiar forms,” Mr Naudin said.

“We are looking forward to these stories being discovered, lived in, and further enriched by the community that inhabits them. We hope our architecture will contribute to a true sense of pride of place, creating not just a place to live, but providing a place that residents can truly be proud to call home.”

As part of its ongoing commitment to creating well-rounded communities, Renewal SA will actively promote female participation on the project by mandating a specified number of work experience placements and new apprenticeships/traineeships for female tradespeople via its Works Program social enterprise. The project’s building contractor will also be required to meet the workforce participation targets specified by the Australian Skills Guarantee – a Commonwealth commitment to ensuring more apprentice, trainee or paid cadet placements are made available on major projects.

The Third Street project was first announced in February 2023 as a 60-apartment affordable housing project within the state government’s suite of initiatives outlined in A Better Housing Future. Detailed design has unlocked a further 24 apartments – a 40% increase, providing much needed housing for South Australians.

The government will actively pursue funding support for the priority project via a first-round submission to the Federal government’s Housing Australia Future Fund Facility, in partnership with the Community Housing sector to underpin its ongoing operation as an affordable rental project.

Renewal SA has commenced a second stage tender to shortlisted builders to deliver the project in conjunction with ARM. The selection of a CHP partner is expected to commence this month following a stage one shortlisting process.


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