Unique Homes - Influential Apartments and Townhouses, Melbourne

Some of Melbourne's unique apartments and townhouses have shaped the way in which we think about housing, and the Robin Boyd Foundation's open day on Sunday 22 May 2016, provided access to a handful of interesting residences. Photography was not permitted inside the private residences, so to share a glimpse into the design of a few of the places I entered, I have included some exterior images of some of the highlights.

In observing the diverse residential projects I felt that landscaping, particularly the way the design of buildings and each home, facilitated a physical and visual connection between indoor and outdoor, as well as natural light and ventilation, contributed significantly to my sense of the quality of each building. Residences with beautiful landscaping or outlook were inspiring and instilled a stronger sense of each building's community to me. I felt that buildings which integrated car parking at ground level, missed significant opportunities to provide residents with a physical and visual connection to landscaping, and create highly usable, interesting, activated and multifunctional space, at the ground plane. Although I understand the many practicalities and demands in providing car parking, it made me wonder, how car parking could be integrated better to optimise the ground plane in small sites where provision is required. 

Glenunga Flats, 1940 - Frederick Romberg

The Glenunga Flats is a striking modernist building, with flat roof and rubble rock chimney seen from the street. The building originally housing four apartments across two-storeys and a communal courtyard. Although the interior has been reconfigured, with the two ground floor apartments now amalgamated, the building has been oriented to provide a special relationship with the courtyard, with angular box windows along the western facade optimising natural light. 

Clendon, 1939-1940 - Sir Roy Grounds

Featuring 8 identical apartments, the original building was designed to be compact and adaptable, featuring retractable beds, desks and ironing boards, allowing for the small spaces to be used for multiple purposes. The studio apartments, with wide balconies, are arranged in a U-shape, framing a north facing communal courtyard. 

Moonbria, 1941 - Sir Roy Grounds

The modest studio apartments in Moonbria are accessed from the street from a dramatic spiral stair. The U-shaped arrangement surrounds the central north-facing communal courtyard, with long balconies providing circulation space and semi-private outdoor space for inhabitants.

Wynnstay Apartments, 2001 - McBride Charles Ryan
10 townhouses were developed as part of a co-operative project, along the length of the block, with a side driveway featuring gum trees and providing access to ground level garages. 

Bedford Street Townhouses, 2015 - DKO

Five townhouses are integrated across five levels on this narrow site, with spaces stacked vertically. Each townhouse features a rooftop terrace with views over the neighbourhood, to the city and distant hills. The project achieves a 6 star energy rating.