The return of John Wardle

Stonnington City Council are assessing a planning application that marks the return of John Wardle Architects into the Melbourne development sphere. Small in stature but high in design articulation, 424 Malvern Road Prahran represents the practice's first notable local project since the Melbourne School of Design was completed during mid 2014.

Incidentally the Prahran residential development holds a certain amount of design commonality with the Melbourne School of Design, with its upper levels also employing a transparent metal facade. With a nominal development value of $6.75 million, proponent 424 Malvern Road Developments Pty Ltd looks set to aim the project squarely at the high-end market; apartment sizes within the development range between 73sqm for a single bedroom abode to 157sqm for a three bedroom dwelling.

Design and design impetus. Image courtesy John Wardle Architects

John Wardle design statement

A two storey podium, comprising of brick and steel framed openings, provides an articulated and balanced transition from the two-storey town-houses on Francis Street to the Victorian era commercial buildings situated along Malvern Road.

The ground plane, activated by a series of apertures and portals, reveals the use and activities of the spaces within. The main address for the apartments is on Francis Street and maintains the residential nature of this street. A large picture window showcases the inner mechanics of a triple height car stacker storage system, a reference to the history of the local automobile industry on the site.

A double height void within the café illuminates as a lantern, signifying the prominence of the corner intersection of Malvern Road and Francis Street. The apartments above are generously sized, each with considered orientation to maximize views, daylight and ventilation to living and bedroom spaces.

Transient in nature, each operative screen responds to the individual, creating an inhabited edge that is in a constant state of flux. Their materiality and colour are mute, acting as a counterpoint to the earthy character of the brick podium. The upper portion of the building appears more ephemeral than its base and merges with the background of a typical Melbourne cloudy sky.

John Wardle Architects, Design Response Report
Artist's impression of the retail interior. Image courtesy John Wardle Architects

John Wardle's design for 424 Malvern Road replaces a previously approved golden multi-level building by Conrad Architects for the site.

Stonnington planning wrap

Further along Malvern Road and a planning application for a large mixed-use residential and medical development has been rejected by Council. Highlighted by Urban Melbourne via this article, 310-324 Malvern Road & 99 Bendigo Street Prahran has since gone to appeal with proponent Victoria House Nominees Pty Ltd slated to have their case heard during November.

The ROTHELOWMAN-designed complex features 158 apartments in addition to a seven level hospital and medical centre fronting Malvern Road.

Proposals covering Malvern Road, Porter Street and High Street

Elsewhere in Prahran and entity 18 Porter Street Pty Ltd has resubmitted plans for 14-28 Porter Street which has been redesigned to accommodate 99 dwellings within an eight storey building. BG Architecture have designed the complex which also includes 124 car parking spaces. To Windsor and Hayball have designed a seven level building at 168-176 High Street Windsor.

Currently before Stonnington City Council, the scheme looks at add 68 apartments and three ground level retail tenancies behind a retained heritage facade.

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