Smith Collective

This new community is the Gold Coast’s biggest ever urban renewal project. It’s also Australia’s first build-to-rent development.

Now called Smith Collective, it is 5 km from Surfers Paradise and comprises 1,252 apartments and townhouses, shops, and a large public plaza and park.

Smith Collective started life as the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games athletes’ village and is now Australia’s very first build-to-rent community.

ARM, in partnership with Brisbane architecture firms Arkhefield and Archipelago, masterplanned the community and designed the six residential and retail lots.


The history and the distinctive characteristics of the Gold Coast and its hinterland inspired our overall urban design. The design captures the sub-tropical essence of Queensland’s south coast with sunlight, shading, natural ventilation and water.

A blooming double helix snakes through the site—a yellow-rimmed arbor that twists around a water feature called The Disc at the centre of the village heart. The Disc references Natural Bridge, the much-loved waterfall that streams through the top of a basalt cave at nearby Springbrook National Park.

It’s as if the double helix is carrying the colour with it as it moves through the site, and it leaves splashes of colour on the buildings as it goes.

The building facades are in graded blues, greens, yellows, oranges and reds, creating a sort of shared DNA for the village. The hot yellows and oranges at the village heart cede to softer greens on the fringe. The brightest colours in our palette come from nature: the neon green of the red-eyed tree frog and reds and yellows of indigenous grevilleas and melaleucas.

Sheltered, landscaped outdoor spaces feature moveable street furniture, street trees and space to mill around.

Health and knowledge

The site, a former harness-racing and greyhound track, is ringed by the Gold Coast University Hospital and Griffith University, as well as remnant bushland. It is a village modelled on a city so the buildings are taller and closer together than in many suburbs. This leaves room for more public space. There is a pedestrian passeggiata and a mix of public, private, retail and commercial sites.

During the Commonwealth Games, Main Street was lined with 71 flagpoles, representing each competing country. Now, the focus is on the shopping mall, supermarket, pub and restaurants that line the village’s garden heart.

Smith Collective is Australia’s very first build-to-rent development.

The buildings have well and truly reverted to their long-term states (with their Games-mode modifications removed). Many tenants are professionals and students from the health and knowledge precinct.

Sun fit and sustainability

Smith Collective carries a responsibility to be socially, financially and environmentally sustainable. Accordingly, we designed it as a community that adapted to the Games, rather than the other way around.

Smith Collective was a pilot project for the new Green Star Communities sustainability tool and achieved a 6-Star rating.

We were keen to be involved in trialling this tool because, being an entire development, Smith Collective was an opportunity to look beyond individual sustainable buildings and consider what a designed-from-scratch sustainable community could be. Green Star Communities assesses social sustainability factors: governance, liveability, economic prosperity, environment and innovation.

The project also achieved six leaves using the UDIA EnviroDevelopment rating tool in the areas of ecosystems, waste management, energy, materials and community.

The 1,252 homes, which come in five main layouts, are environmentally sustainable design in disguise. Where the façades face north, we have designed deep slab projections to create shade for windows. Coloured aluminium fins and façade panels provide further shade.

Every apartment has a significant, sheltered balcony and all have views of the bush, the sea or the village heart. Surface rainwater (overland flow) and stormwater from roofs is collected and fed into the main lake.