Founded by architect Clement Lee and his wife, Betty, Riverlee was conceived out of a desire to create places centred around people, delivering design-led, visionary projects across a broad range of sectors.
After completing studies in Architecture and Planning at the University of Melbourne, Clement moved to Malaysia where, alongside two partners, he founded an architecture practice that grew to a team of 130 people. Looking to combine his passion for design and his vision for the future, he branched out into the world of property development and Riverlee was born.
Today, as Riverlee continues to grow, ensuring that a considered design philosophy underpins every project remains paramount. Creative control is overseen by a complete in-house team, led by Riverlee design director Gabriel Kok. With more than a decade of experience at the international design firm, Fender Katsalidis, Gabriel joined the business in 2014 after partnering with Riverlee on 108 Flinders Street.
“Clement recognised that in retirement, he wanted to pass on a legacy to uphold the creative output of our company across its portfolio, and so a design team was created,” he says.
“The key role of the design team is to preserve the design ethos governed by Riverlee. We use design to bridge the gap between the two arms of the business — development and asset management — sharing knowledge and taking on learnings from each other to create the unique Riverlee experience.”
Supported by leading Australian project partners such as Fender Katsalidis, Carr, Studio Tate and One Design Office, Riverlee’s design team creates a unique Riverlee experience that combines intelligent design with commercial success, creating a point of difference to the standard industry offering.
“In many instances, developers are driven by numbers. Numbers are important, but the thing I have learned from Clement over the years is that you should be able to overcome a lot of these numbers issues through intelligent design, meaning you don’t compromise the outcome.”
Involved in every step of the development journey, the design team’s role is to stress test each decision, balancing the ‘nice to haves’ with the ‘must haves’ as a way to avoid wastage, resist trends and focus on functionality and simplicity in their purest and most stylish forms.
As Kok says, there are “no marketing smoke and mirrors” in Riverlee designs — the team works hard to find the right solutions that optimise the end experience for the user.
“From feasibility studies to concept plans to materiality, we are there to ask the question: Have we worked hard enough? A good design outcome means you need to strip each element apart to ensure everything is meaningfully fit-for-purpose. This is where commercial gains can be made without passing on the expense to the end user.”
Dedicated to the business’s philosophy, Riverlee’s design team is poised to continue delivering beautiful, functional and commercially successful projects that support local communities well into the future.