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 pre-cast.
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.