High density multiple residential buildings can
be a difficult architectural proposition – to be viable they must be driven by
yield outcomes whilst negotiating the constraints of planning schemes and
resistance to and anxiety about change. Another complication is that the principally
visible facades are often sited in heritage streets.
This project in Fitzroy is conventional in most
respects but investigates some ways to articulate a building such that it deals
with some of the pitfalls of the apartment block. The building uses conventional and economic
construction methods – in this case pre-cast panels. The key move is to arrange exposed aggregate
pre-cast panels cast in shapes which have an abstract reference to planes of
Victorian masonry. Because the panel
arrangement obscures the legibility of the floor levels, the façade is effectively
de-scaled. The effect is reinforced by
suspending the panels slightly apart from one another and this in conjunction
with the exposed aggregate finish, allows the viewer a new way of seeing
The result is façades which read as compositions
of textured abstract form, resonant of the context, but not immediately
legible, obscuring the individual dwellings.
Philosophically this is a similar approach to the Mansion Block as a way
of dealing with the problems of scale that apartment buildings present.