Art meets architecture: it's a well worn line but also highly appropriate for one of Melbourne's most recent additions. The 2 Girls Building in Lithgow Street, Abbotsford is more a case of art becoming architecture with its distinctive facade merely the start of the building's story.
Billy Kavellaris of architecture firm Kavellaris Urban Design (KUD) was on hand to show Urban Melbourne through the newly completed apartment complex, which may just be headed for iconic status among Melbourne's other renowned built form.
The advent of the building's exterior is a story in itself, with developer Domain Hill approaching KUD to incorporate a small element of artist Samantha Everton's “Masquerade” photograph within the design of the building. The two young girls featured in the artist's work happen to be the children of the developer. Little did the team at Domain Hill realise Billy Kavellaris had grander intentions, essentially morphing the image onto the buildings facade via the liberal use of DigiGlass and concrete panels set in purpose-build rubber mouldings.
As explained by Billy Kavellaris, architecture becomes photography, photography becomes architecture and the building becomes a hybrid urban built form completely unique to its surrounds. The theme continues internally with every common area featuring artwork of some description.
KUD and Samantha Everton worked closely to ensure a collaborative approach in the placement of varied art forms throughout the project's four levels, with photography the dominant medium. Corridors are exceptionally wide with minimalist white finishes; coupled with track lighting the spaces are full of purpose rather than simply being a transit space from A to B.
While the artworks were mounted upon the building's completion, they now fall under the control of the body corporate.
As touched upon, there's a certain rawness to the finishes within the 2 Girls Building's circulation areas. The pared back palette generally consists of recycled timber, polished concrete, simple white finishes, glass and steel.
This theme continues within the living spaces with apartments spread over level 1 while levels 2 and 3 are dedicated toward loft style dwellings. A stair within each loft leads to individual expansive rooftop living spaces. Larger on average than most apartments in the market, their size and composition is a reflection upon the niche sought for the project; owner-occupiers with a keen sense of place and quality.
Billy Kavellaris explains that given every effort was exerted to bring as much character and livability to the building, there was an associated premium placed on apartment pricing. Any apprehensions were dispelled with the uptake of apartments rapid and a reflection of the unique product the development team had brought to market.
I recall building a case for why Brunswick's The Commons was the most impressive apartment project completed in recent times. 2 Girls Building sits comfortably alongside The Commons, both stellar examples of how to create impressive low-rise apartment developments that interact with their surrounds.
While The Commons arguable has more tricks internally, 2 Girls Building's exterior is sheer magnificence, a real stand out from the pack. I can only hope that at some point it's added to the Open House Melbourne roster.
Quizzing Billy Kavellaris as to what's next on KUD's radar, the former Kinnears factory in Footscray is set to host multiple residential towers in a large-scale project for the practice, while another project of State significance is also due to be revealed later in the year. Watch this space!
For further images of 2 Girls Building, see KUD's website featuring photography taken by Peter Clarke, to which the lead image of this article is attributed to.