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.
As with many significant buildings around Fitzroy, 237 Napier Street would see a new purpose as housing stock with DealCorp going about redeveloping the existing building into C.F. Row...and an impressive outcome it is! C.F. Row is the quintessential inner suburban red brick exterior facade melded with new dark-toned additions that provide contrast, albeit on a visually pleasing level.
Designed by Woods Bagot, C.F. Row includes 45 apartments and 7 townhouses split between 1, 2, 3 and 5 bedroom dwellings. Two basement levels and five contemporary levels of living sit behind the historic facade.
Works began on the project at the beginning of 2016, with all bar a ground floor tenancy fit-out completed. Apartments choices consist of 18 one-bedroom, 22 two-bedroom, four three-bedroom and one five-bedroom dwelling whilst all the townhouses include three-bedrooms. Internally the townhouses span between 143sqm and 167sqm.
C.F. Row's apartments are set to the south of the site, directly behind the C.F. Rojo and Sons facade, with an indented level above the historic structure providing a break between old and new form. Conversely, the SoHo townhouses sit in behind the 'restored' northern facade, with a contemporary addition also adjacent.
Both buildings are separated by an east-west passage which also provides additional light penetration and a secondary perspective aside from those facing directly away from the site.
C.F. Row is an effective marriage between old and new, and in many ways mirrors the Jaques Richmond Stage 1 redevelopment in colour palette, size and composition. The earthiness and relatability of low-rise red brick facades cannot be underestimated and is perhaps a reason why they are so popular in contemporary designs in areas such as Richmond, Collingwood and Fitzroy.
Historic elements to three sides, scale, location, history and a complementary material palette; C.F. Row simply wins on numerous levels.
In my opinion, it is certainly one of, if not Melbourne's most visually satisfying new addition of 2017.