This innovative apartment block by Melbourne-based Breathe Architecture caters to a new type of urban community, and shows how a building can support social, fiscal and environmental dimensions.
Our strategy for The Commons apartment building in Brunswick was to build more with less: to provide space and height, light and air. To give people what they need rather than be determined by what the marketing agents perceived would sell. In collaboration with Small Giants – a social business that develops and supports sustainable and socially equitable projects – we saw the need for a more progressive model in apartment living, one that would enable sustainable urbanisation. The project was to have a triple bottom line, where social and environmental dimensions were as important as its economics.
The building contains 24 apartments, two artists’ studios, a café, a retail space, a rooftop vegetable garden and a communal social deck with views across the city. It is next to the railway lines and, at just six kilometres from the centre of Melbourne, its residents are committed to public and low-impact transport. Within a two-minute walking radius are the Upfield bike path, Antsey train station and number 19 Sydney Rd tram. The development has adopted a ‘zero car policy’, instead providing a car share membership, transport cards, and parking for 72 bikes.
Transport strategies have certainly been an important part of the concept, but being close to the city centre also meant higher land prices. To compensate for this, our design goal was to do more with less. We wanted to provide a more spacious, more affordable, more sustainable mode of apartment living, so we have designed a simpler building, but designed it beautifully.
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Written by Breathe Architecture
Project – The Commons, Melbourne
Photos – Andrew Wuttke