Increased densification of Australia’s major cities as we move into the 21st century will require clever urban thinking to ensure that land that is ripe for residential development complements the existing surrounds. In Melbourne, historically the inner city was home to our beating manufacturing heart of yesteryear that powered our local economy much like a coal powered locomotive, however the glory days of manufacturing seem to have passed as Melbourne’s urban and economic needs have evolved.
Apartment buildings seem to be popping up across the inner and middle ring suburbs faster than you can say bonanza with many developments being built on former industrial sites and factories. In Fitzroy North, approximately 3.2 kilometres from the central business district where many inner city hipsters and artisans like to call home, the cleverly designed Roi Apartments located on Bik Lane has set a new benchmark for residential development in the inner north. The six star energy rated building was designed by Bird de la Coeur Architects and delivered by Probuild Constructions on a rare city acre. Located behind a row of shops facing Nicholson Street and behind swathes of houses to the south, east and north the initial proposal for the site was met with considerable concern from local residents over the proposed size and potential impact that the building would have on traffic, parking and overshadowing in the immediate area. The developer and architects took these concerns into account and have designed a building which is sympathetic to its surrounds.
Roi apartments sits atop a former engineering factory which made machinery parts that consisted of an outer double bricked wall with a height of approximately 10 metres. The developers and architects collaborated and decided that the most suitable outcome would be to keep the factory wall and use it as a sound and visual barrier as well as an architectural feature. The building has been designed with energy and water conscious features including drought tolerant plants in the central north facing courtyard, solar assisted hot water heating and rain water harvesting. Each apartment has been designed to maximise the available natural light based on its orientation with south facing apartments above the internal garden featuring frosted north facing windows.
The design of Roi apartments demonstrates that even in an inner city area with existing low rise residential dwellings and pre-conceived fears pertaining to increased traffic, reduced on-street parking and decreased local amenity, the relevant stakeholders can work together to produce an outcome that fits in with its surrounds with minimal impact. This development, along with other recent inner city residential developments, have set a great example for future inner city residential developments moving forward.