Orbis South Melbourne shows its wares

Panel by panel, one of Melbourne's truly unique residential buildings is beginning to show its considerable character due to an exterior unlike any other. Orbis is located on Palmerston Crescent, South Melbourne, and is the handy work of ARM Architecture on behalf of South Yarra-based Arno Corporation.

Spanning seven levels and holding 48 apartments, Orbis' sculptured exterior is the development's highlight which sees a golden, concave facade applied over the northern aspect. According to ARM Architecture, a ‘sameness’ and ‘placelessness’ has come to define many of Melbourne's contemporary apartment projects, thus the architect's goal has been to bust the stereotypical apartment 'block' by creating a high quality and dynamic facade which will set the project apart from others.

Citing the project website, ARM Architecture have "chosen a design strategy that involves selective removal from a mass to reveal a figure or image. Employed at the scale of a building, this approach generates facades that go beyond the composition of patterns or forms to create space and make a remarkable contribution to the urban skyline."

The result to date couldn't be any more spectacular.

Orbis' facade unlike any other

The developer's perspective

Orbis represents a unique architectural expression.

Using an architectural technique that is more often associated with sculpture, ARM has chosen a design strategy that involves selective removal from a mass to reveal a figure or image. Employed at the scale of a building, this approach generates facades that go beyond the composition of patterns or forms to create space and make a remarkable contribution to the urban skyline.

In order to ensure a complete design package ARM are also responsible for interior concepts. The approach to the kitchens and dining areas is to enhance the sense of openness by creating a furnished rather than a fit out expression and to use natural materials to counterbalance the spectacular exteriors.

Arno Corporation
Momentum's facade

Maintaining the momentum

Orbis is joined by adjoining project Momentum which sees the conversion of an existing commercial office block into 54 apartments. Ahead of Orbis in terms of construction progress, Momentum's facade also carries a unique exterior in that it is adorned with balustrades featuring a looping photographic motif of an athlete.

Drawing upon the nearby Albert Park and Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC) for inspiration, the motif is also designed to depict life's never ending journey.

The architectural goal with Momentum has been to create an apartment building of the highest quality that expresses the vitality of city life

Ian McDougall, ARM Architecture
The Face, St Kilda

Momentum and Orbis aren't the first collaboration between Arno Corporation and ARM Architecture, with St Kilda's The Face completed during 2012. Consisting of copper composite panels which were supplied by Spanish-based Alucoil, The Face's exterior provides flair to an already eclectic area surrounding Acland Street and Carlisle Street .

With a number of Salvador Dali painting acting as inspiration on the architect's behalf, The Face and its fascinating facade joins Momentum and Orbis in bringing real character and interest to both the building and the respective building's street level surrounds. One can only hope for more projects between developer and architect in the future.

1 comment

Bilby's picture

ARM's architectural efforts in Carlton are looking pretty "spectacular" with this effort, too:

I wonder if they will be putting it up for an award if it ever gets built?

Back to top

Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.


Transport & Design

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:00
Infrastructure Victoria unveiled a new round of research into its larger programme of work dealing with managing transport demand. The authority contracted Arup and KPMG to produce the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM) and while it is new, it is considered fit for purpose in the strategic context.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.