A sustainable, gentrification-proof building in Melbourne

An environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable housing development by Austin Maynard. architects offers buyers generally excluded from the city centre’s housing market new opportunities for comfort and community living.

In the vibrant and heterogenous neighbourhood of Brunswick, Austin Maynard Architects has realised the first community housing development as both designer and developer, recruiting ethical investors and resourcing the firm’s clients to realise a development that fills a gap in Melbourne’s housing market and offers people who tend to be excluded from the benefits of city living, quality, environmental sustainability and affordable housing – in comparison to similar sized solutions in central areas.

Austin Maynard Architects,
Terrace House, Melbourne, Australia 2021. Photo Maitreya Chandorkar

The building is located on busy Sydney Road in a long, narrow lot within a consolidated urban district, and houses 20 flats of different typologies – two and three bedrooms – spread over six floors, as well as three shops on the ground floor. Referring to the vocabulary of post-war Australian architecture, the street fronts recover the consolidated element of the arches, also visible in the elevations of the neighbouring buildings: here it is reinterpreted in the full-bodied masonry of the east front, and suggested by the slender arched metal profiles. A weave of wire mesh on the façade serves as a means of shading and wind protection as well as support for the climbing vegetation of the balconies, prefiguring over time a progressive symbiosis between architecture and green landscape. The exposed rough concrete structure give the building a first straightforward layer of character, establishin a dialogue with the steel arches and the playful, brightly coloured exterior curtains.

Priority goal of the operation was to reduce the ecological footprint and running costs without renouncing living comfort. The building, which is completely electric and does not use fossil fuels, is energy self-sufficient thanks to the use of photovoltaic solar energy, an electric heat pump for hot water and an integrated grid with 100% green electricity, with significant savings in terms of consumption and climate-altering emissions.
Inside the flats, each with a private terrace overlooking the street, microclimatic comfort is ensured by a careful study of size and positioning of openings to encourage cross-ventilation, by high-performance thermal envelopes and by energy recovery ventilation systems. An efficient rainwater recovery system ensures that water is reused for domestic purposes and irrigation.

Austin Maynard Architects, Terrace House, Melbourne, Australia 2021
Terrace House, Melbourne, Australia 2021. Photo Maitreya Chandorkar

A co-design process with the buyers guided the design choices. A community with similar needs, goals and values gathered around the table, starting with ecological sensitivity and the desire to foster the relational aspect of living. Collegial choices were therefore implemented, including the renunciation of mechanised systems and of a garage (replaced by a parking area for 55 bicycles) to discourage private car mobility. The communal spaces have been carefully designed to encourage relaxation and socialising, from the condominium garden on the ground floor to the roof terrace with services, communal laundry, lawn area, productive garden and trees, to reintroduce even in a central area that feeling of proximity and contact with nature which is more typical of dwelling in suburban areas.

Terrace House
Architectural project:
Austin Maynard Architects
Project team:
Andrew Maynard, Mark Austin, Mark Stranan
Austin Maynard Architects
Kapitol Group
Project manager:
Armitage Jones
Structural engineering:
Adams Engineering
BCA Engineers
Landscape architecture:
Stairwells graphics:
Hermann Studios

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