Text description provided by the architects. E589 is a compact 10 storey 55 unit residential apartment building in the City of Melbourne. Within the developer, estate agent and market driven apartment design typology, this project addresses the challenge of achieving liveability, urban dialogue and architectural aesthetic. E589 achieves this within an otherwise utilitarian development parameters and modest individual apartment footprints.
The project is an architecture of patterning, orchestrated by the participation of the building’s occupants. The myriad positions of the balcony louvres that dominate the two street facades are a direct manifestation of the users’ interaction with their environment. The result is two highly dynamic envelopes that can form a closed cube, or can open completely, with a full spectrum of permutations in-between. The fully motorised sunscreen system, which responds automatically to the wind and rain, enhances occupants’ comfort and experience, yet can be overridden by individual apartments for desired level of privacy and solar access.
Typical of its context, the narrow site offers an area of 500sqm, with a width to depth ratio of 1:3. In order to efficiently utilise the footprint available whilst also to achieving the optimum cost benefit for the developer, voids measuring 3.5m x 6m and 3 x 2.5 respectively have been extracted from the built mass. These voids are aligned with those at the adjoining apartment building in order to reduce vertical air drafts. In doing so, these two bright kaleidoscopic light wells, act as a pair of lungs for the building, allowing for improved cross ventilation opportunities for inward-facing apartments. Fixed louvers are utilised again, acting as visual barriers between the properties.
The metal facade is painted entirely in white. The façade elements explore solid versus void, and the austere, reflective quality of white further amplifies the light and shadow in this essay of composition. The prominent east and west elevations address the creases and twists of their built context – continuing the street eave with soffit detailing at pedestrian level, aligning balcony structure with adjoining gutters and the omission of facade screening which in turn gently gesture to the rooftops of direct neighbours to the north and south.
Richard Meier said, “White is never just white, within it is the colours of the rainbow” – in E589 the white of the facades passes through an invisible prism on the ground floor, is then refracted and separated into individual colours of the rainbow over the nine floors above. The common areas of each level are painted in Red, Coral, Orange, Yellow, Green, Olive, Blue, Violet and Purple – moving through the corridors is like pacing inside a Kelly Ellsworth painting of single block colour.
Goethe imagined darkness not just as absence of light but as its own active force - in tribute to Goethe and more local cultural events such as White Night Melbourne, coloured LEDS have been utilised as part of the balcony illumination, inviting the occupants to playfully colour the night sky.