By Lyn Drummond

9 February 2012 – a community out of an eight star apartment building in Melbourne rather than having a home as “your own little box” was how the architects envisioned designing the 24-apartment building, the Commons, which will be completed later this year.

Designed by Brunswick’s Breathe Architecture, one of the key philosophies behind the building is a sense of community.

Breathe’s director Jeremy McLeod said: “One of the fundamental ideas was to make it green, but it was also to make it clever and strategic around the way the building works, which was to build a community out of it, rather than just having it as your own little box.”

The building will push boundaries around sustainability, Mr McLeod said.

“Sustainability is premised on the whole idea of stripping back and taking out all of the stuff that you don’t need, and expressing all of the stuff that you do need.

“The aesthetic at the Commons is not compromised by the sustainability, but enhanced with details such as raw copper tap fittings, copper kitchen sinks and recycled floorboards in the apartments.”

Development manager for project developer, Small Giants, Adam Borowski told The Fifth Estate tenders would be called in April to construct the building, which will comprise one and two bedroom aapartments, three artist’s studios and a cafe. It will take six weeks to complete.

Located six kilometre from the CBD at 7 Florence Street, Brunswick, Mr Borowski said it was breaking the mould – there is no car parking, every apartment has two or three bicycle spaces.

“We have been more than 50 per cent sold, and in a slow market we are happy with that result, “ he said. “One bedders sold for $385,000, two bedrooms from $495,000 to $570,000. To date one single bedroom is left at $395,000 and nine two-bedrooms.

“It’s a smart building concept in every sense.  The rooftop garden provides a communal meeting space, but also serves to cool the building naturally. The interiors create natural ventilation, while the northerly frontage maximises natural light, “ Mr Borowski said.

Sustainable features will include:

  • Solar panels and gas boosted solar hot water service
  • Rainwater tanks for the rooftop vegetable garden and landscaping
  • Abundance of natural light and cross ventilation
  • Selected recycled materials and exposed concrete ceilings

Each apartment will have:

  • Hydronic heating
  • Double glazed windows
  • Recycled timber floors and raw timber feature wall
  • Copper and brass tapware
  • Outdoor terraces and access to a communal rooftop garden with BBQ

The site is between Anstey train station and the Sydney Road tram and all residents will be offered yearly public transport passes and a car-share membership as part of their owner’s corporation fees.

The Commons rooftop

The Upfield bike path alongside the Commons runs directly into the city with almost 70 internal bike racks incorporated into the building plan.

Finishes will be raw and exposed wherever possible to reduce the embodied energy of the building. At the same time the use of solid concrete structure and cladding will ensure the building has a long life.

The west façade will have a second skin of Wonderglas (Ampelite polycarbonate) battened off the exterior wall that is open at the top and bottom. This second skin will breathe and reduce undesirable afternoon solar gains on the main façade from the west.

Carbon offset mechanisms
A large grid connected photovoltaic array is proposed for the roof. The body corporate will negotiate on behalf of the occupants for 100 per cent renewable green power for the building. However, individual tenancies will have their own meters.

The building design has made the most of the site and its limited northern exposure. Deep balconies on the north and limited glazing to the east and west will help deal with unwanted sun and glare. Voids have been introduced to promote better daylight penetration and ventilation.

See www.7florence.st

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