LocationRichmond VIC 3121, Australia
Text description provided by the architects. As the name suggests, the primary driver for the final building in the ‘A Place to Live’ development is the people who live here. Innovative floor-plans, generous balconies, premium finishes, passive thermal control and cross ventilation coalesce to provide the intangible feeling of comfort these apartments embody. And, while these elements are extremely important to the residents, what the design achieves is far broader. Bold, yet restrained, the result is a curvilinear form that posits rigour of scale and proportion in a single sweeping gesture that is both place making and highly aspirational.
Key to the building’s appeal is a combination of calm and strength, where the rhythm of line negates the bustle of the intersection. Visually cueing the layered curves of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim in New York, wide bands of powder-coated aluminium composite seemingly float in space thanks to deeply recessed balconies. The design however, is wholly cognisant of the site and not simply the hero curve of the corner, no matter how dramatic! Each aspect of the building is independently addressed with corresponding shifts in form. Burnley Street is greeted by an undulating curve that wraps around the building and makes a fluid transition to Victoria Street where, rather than continuing as a round, the form makes a slight return. The result is an unexpected and extremely beautiful transition that exaggerates the visual grace of the cantilevered balconies. It also creates a clearly defined corner from which to commence the portion overlooking Williams Reserve. At this point, the character of the building shifts to make a direct response to the Reserve. Here, powder-coated aluminium gently gives way to timber in prelude to the central section’s realisation in timber and glass, before switching back to metal for the southern side.
Occupying a site of approximately 810m2 the sculptural form of the 63 apartment, mix use building demonstrates a tailored response to key drivers inherent to the location: the busy intersection; and Williams Reserve. Pragmatic concerns, raised in shadow analysis, have been mitigated by a stepped layering of floors that ensures minimal shadow impact on the reserve. Additionally this has the benefit of increased sight lines, with no awareness of the upper floors from within 22 metres. And, while this solution is invisible by definition, what it achieves for the overall form is imparted as a sense of lightness a solid block cannot deliver. This is driven home by the extraordinary design that visually floats the whole building above a fully transparent ground floor.
Supported by tapered oval columns, the upper floors hover above walls of glass that allow Williams Reserve to be viewed from all sides of the building. Superbly leveraging the external aesthetic appeal of the Reserve throughout the entire ground floor, the bold but restrained design joins the calm of the landscape with the buzz of Burnley and Victoria Streets. This sense of calm is enhanced by timber finishes, deep charcoal tones, steel, and powder-coated aluminium, which are used throughout this area as large uninterrupted swathes of neutral tones. The result is a restful palette that draws the eye through the building to the landscape beyond.
This palette is continued in the apartments, which benefit from generous balconies finished with fine louvres and substantial glazing. Arranged to maximise privacy and view, the floor-plates mimic the individual floor-plans in cognition of neighbours, view and amenity. Completing the building at ground floor are a convenience store and café, plus wellness facilities including a gym, pool and sauna. Indeed, taking full advantage of the lower floor glazing, the pool, which runs along the side facing Williams Reserve, allows tenants to fully engage with the reserve while doing their morning laps!