Luna Apartments / Elenberg Fraser

  • 02 Sep 2013
  • Housing Residential Selected Works
© Peter Clarke

Architects: Elenberg Fraser
Location: 173/177 Barkly Street, St Kilda VIC 3182,
Council: Port Phillip cit y coun cil
Project Manager: AWC Property
Contractor: Hacer Group
Area: 7000.0 sqm
Photographs: Peter Clarke

© Peter Clarke

From the architect. It has inspired a dedicated fan web-site, generations of fancy-dress costumes and countless YouTube tribute videos, and now a building. That’s right, Luna, ’s new four storey residential project on Barkly Street, St Kilda, is based on Princess Leia’s infamous ‘dancing girl’ gold bikini, featured in Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. While Luna’s curvaceous form echoes thedraping lines of Leia’s usual white robes, the shimmering gold glass and metal mesh materials are matched perfectly with the colours and textures of the gold brassiere.

© Peter Clarke

Callum says that “the science of the building is the science of perception”. The metallic skin seems almost intangible, hovering between reality and fantasy – a comment on the tension between the interior and exterior self. How much of ourselves do we reveal; what is introverted and what is extraverted?

© Peter Clarke

The kinky scene gave audiences the answer to their poignant question: what is Leia hiding under her robes? Luna was the answer to the ongoing conundrum of apartment life – how do you retain privacy, keep your lights on and still enjoy the view? And like Leia, who overcame the indignation and humiliation of being enslaved as Jabba the Hutt’s dancing girl through her inner strength – Luna is not just a pretty face.


To address privacy, light and visibility issues, we designed an operable shutter system, which surrounds the entire building, protecting the interior and housing a series of lights, which offer residents ultimate control over not only what they see, but what others can see of them! Switching the inside lights on reflects the interior of the apartment onto the windows, and people outside can see in, however leaving the outside lights on illuminates the interior, turning the windows transparent, and people outside are prevented from seeing in by the reflection of the lights on the glass.

© Peter Clarke

Whether you’re pro-voyeurism or antiexhibitionism, at Luna, you can rest assured that people will only be able to see what you let them!

© Peter Clarke

Besides the curvy form, revolutionary lighting system and flesh and bronze façade, Luna is also Elenberg Fraser’s first completed wayfinding and signage project for multi-residential apartments. A red Sith Lightsaber stands guard like a sentinel at Luna’s front entrance, and the red light carries through to the retail arcade directing you to the apartments above. White LED light battens are used in the lobby and throughout the ground floor; we created a dot-dash numbering system to identify the apartments.

Floor Plan

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Cite: "Luna Apartments / Elenberg Fraser" 02 Sep 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • Croco Dile

    It’s not easy to judge how plans are done in Australia, but I definitely know of better solutions to such a uneasy situation.

  • mark z

    Just like the 33 MacKenzie Street / Elenberg Fraser Apartments in Melbourne, the 2 bed units feature a bedroom that faces onto a living area with no external windows. How is that acceptable?!

  • Luc Helterbrand

    beautiful images of awful solutions. Those plans are horrible…but the decoration/design and the building, beautiful.

  • Peek

    Could not agree more Luc . I could not live in these apartments –just very bad planning . But you have to give it to the cheese wedge shape and external finish — interesting– sort of reminisent of the flat iron building in New York.

  • beeeheee

    I guys you people have never seen condos in Vancouver, Canada…I would totally pick this in a heart beat over the character-less cookie-cutters in Vancouver that they sell for skyrocket prices.