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Pirovich's daring Abbotsford CLT/Passive House building unveiled

A daring design has emerged for one of Johnston Street's premier corners.

Developer Pirovich is proposing a unique 9 level building on Johnston and Nicholson Streets, complete with hanging greenery and a distinctive central staircase that may well define the design. Fieldwork have created 329 Johnston Street, which also holds secondary frontages to 236 Nicholson Street and 37 Hunter Street.

The cross laminated timer (CLT) proposal would follow in the steps of the pioneering 10-storey Forte residential building and Docklands Library, both of which utilised the CLT method and are located within Victoria Harbour.

Nicholson Street perspective. Image: Fieldwork Projects

Wall, floor and roof segments are fabricated offsite, with the building method's official website showing CLT can:

  • Provide a carbon-neutral construction method
  • Allow for more economic foundations and shorter construction time frames
  • Allow for immediate access and easy procedures for follow-on trades

For their part, Pirovich describes 329 Johnston Street in the following fashion:

At 329 Johnston Street Abbotsford we are proposing a beautiful and sustainable new building - retail, offices, medical suites and a hotel. The building structure will be cross laminated timber, wrapped in a stunning expanded mesh.

The building fabric is seeking to achieve Passive Haus, giving future occupiers of the building a happier and healthier place to work, rest and play.

As part of the new development we are setting the building back at ground level and ceding over 200sqm of the site to the public realm.

Project perspectives. Image: Fieldwork Projects

The particulars of the prospective development sees a retail mix including café's, a convenience store and shops across the ground floor, with medical suites and offices accounting for levels one and two.

Subsequent floors carry 41 serviced apartments, split between 8 x 1 bedroom, 26 x 2 bedroom and 7 x 3 bedroom options. At its tallest point 329 Johnston Street would be 30.1m above ground, which would see the project as one of Johnston Street's tallest, with the yellow open stairwell facing Johnston Street running the height of the building.

Three levels of basement parking include provisions for 157 car parking spaces, whilst 70 bicycle spaces are at ground level. With an estimated cost of development at $20 million, Pirovich's ground breaking Abbotsford project is currently at advertising.

15 comments

johnproctor's picture

would be great to see this dump of a site replaced.

It is quite an isolated site that could take a large development, and interestingly they've been able to purchase the two houses that directly abut the old car dealership on the southern frontage which makes it more generous and seems to have helped a lot with the setbacks. Set back above level 2 seems to be 10m from site boundary which is probably pretty consistent with existing.

Given they have bought 2 houses I assume the developer probably did make offers on the 2/3 other single storey, cream brick, 70's houses behind this as well. I wonder if they asked about the slip lane.

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George D's picture

157 car parks for 41 apartments - have I read that right?

On the other hand, this development flatters the Greens on council sufficiently that it should sail through.

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Hamish McKenzie's picture

This looks fantastic. Shame that the rest of Johnston St in this area is so uninspiring. Hopefully this will stimulate more development, and maybe a bit more greening of a fairly desolate stretch of street.

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Mark Baljak's picture

98 parking spaces are dedicated to the office/medical suite component, with the balance to retail and serviced apartments

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johnproctor's picture

That is still really really stupid though.

Yarra Council have this obsession with providing parking so that people park 'in the carpark' instead of in 'local streets'. What they don't seem to realise is that the best way to guarantee people drive places is to give them a carpark.

This local area doesn't have much medical in it so it is welcome in that respect to have a bigger 'clinic' available.

This quote is such bullshit. The 200sqm at ground level is on the southern boundary basically providing a setback to adjacent property... Noone from the public (aside from 2am drunks wanting to piss and crack addicts) would use the space.

As part of the new development we are setting the building back at ground level and ceding over 200sqm of the site to the public realm.

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Ashley Pirovich's picture

Hi John,
That is not correct. The comment refers to the ground floor setback we have provided along the full extent of Johnston Street in front of the retail. The rest of the building will overhang the ground floor setback. By doing this we are more than doubling the existing narrow footpath which will give pedestrians a much more pleasant experience.

The area you refer to on the south side is not public space and will instead be a part of the retail tenancy on Nicholson Street.
Regards,
Ashley Pirovich (Developer of 329 Johnston Street).

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Bilby's picture

Is that space under the "overhang" clear of obstructions, Ashley, (i.e. with the first floor cantilevered) or are there structural columns on the site boundary?

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theboynoodle's picture

Yarra Council have this obsession with providing parking so that people park 'in the carpark' instead of in 'local streets'. What they don't seem to realise is that the best way to guarantee people drive places is to give them a carpark.

But people want parking spaces. They want cars. Even at 'The Commons', which made a virtue of not having parking... and went to efforts to find people who were willing to buy into a different model of living... has ended up creating tensions due to residents wanting cars.

We want more families living in apartments, and families want cars. They might be happy to use public transport for all the journeys they can, but they tend to still want a car to call on. So they need a space.

Buildings like 'The Commons' are still experimental. We are learning how people adapt to them. I badly want that model to succeed. With carshare services disrupting the order there's hope. But right now, today, we're not there.. so councils need to make sure that developments have sufficient parking. Because people are going to buy cars and they are going to need to park them somewhere.

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johnproctor's picture

SOME people want cars.

There is plenty of evidence in the inner city with access to excellent public transport quite low percentages of apartments actually have cars (I.e. In city of Yarra it would be about 50% of 1 bedroom apartments have a car associated with them).

And the commons is not a great example as while their may be some interest of individuals wanting parking there was none provided so even if 50% now want parking it is still consistent with my stats above.

Also They won't need to park a car somewhere because almost all of Yarra is permit parking Which an owner in this building wouldn't have access to. So they won't be able to park them anywhere.

I do admit Medical suites are a bit different doctors probably don't catch public transport and sick people tend to drive to appointments. I do wonder if the developer is hedging his bets on the suites though, they look well configured to be appointed to apartments of necessary, I don't know why individual medical suites need balconies for example.

Props to Ashley Pirovich btw for replying above. Thanks for the info/clarification.

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Ashley Pirovich's picture

Hi Bilby, the building above is cantilevered. There are a series of non structural that form a colonnade. They are for visual purposes only.

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theboynoodle's picture

@ John Proctor

And the commons is not a great example as while their may be some interest of individuals wanting parking there was none provided so even if 50% now want parking it is still consistent with my stats above.

It's a perfect example of why the 'don't provide parking' policy doesn't (yet) actually work.Even if your stats are correct (and I am sure they are.. and a lot of 1 beds don't come with parking.. and there probably is a good argument that developments/owners corps could be more inventive about parking so that spaces are owned collectively and rented out to those who need them.)

Also They won't need to park a car somewhere because almost all of Yarra is permit parking Which an owner in this building wouldn't have access to. So they won't be able to park them anywhere.

Er, yeah. So therefore people who want the option of a car won't buy the apartments. Or, if they do, they'll suffer severely diminished amenity.

I agree that it should be a public policy objective to reduce the use of cars. It does not necessarily flow from that that the objective is to reduce *ownership*, at least not by the same amount. Getting people off busy city roads and into trams is good. Removing their ability to take other journeys where public transport is inappropriate/unavailable is not so good.

But you can't do this by making it harder for new (and only new) homeowners to own cars. That's dumb and regressive. It means that the majority of better off people who already own their homes with parking provision aren't targeted by your policy. Your intention's might be good, but the effect of what you're asking is that worse off people are pushed away from the utility of owning a car. It's unfair, and it's not going to make much difference because the vast majority of road users are unaffected.

Someone buying a flat at the corner of Johnston and Nicholson is paying a premium to be within a quick tram hop of the CBD.. walking distance, even. Plus having lots of neat stuff to do in the immediate vicinity. They're probably not going to be driving to the place they shouldn't be driving to anyway.

Edit: This is at the corner of a different Nicholson St to the one I assumed - but I think the above still applies.. albeit the PT isn't quite as good as the other Nicholson/Johnston junction.

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gobillino's picture

But I think what John is saying is that Yarra are making new developments provide for car parking that the market isn't necessarily demanding. If the developers couldn't sell apartments without spaces, they wouldn't have been pursuing development where not all apartments have spaces.

I think Melbourne City Council used to have similar requirements, but thankfully relaxed these before the more recent apartment boom. When I was looking to buy a city apartment pre-boom, i struggled to find anything semi-habitable that didn't come with a car space. I ended up buying an apartment that came with a space (and consequently sits empty 99% of the time), and paying a premium for something i didn't actually want.

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theboynoodle's picture

I dunno.. he said "realise is that the best way to guarantee people drive places is to give them a carpark." Which is, in effect, saying "if you build it they will drive".

I agree that if the market wants units with no parking then the market should be able to provide them - albeit that the council still needs to balance that market desire, which is a short-term one, with the long-term requirements of residents both in the new developments and the wider area. It's not as simple as a developer saying "I can sell 20 of my units off-plan to people who don't want a car space". The developer doesn't give a fig about all the people who might own that unit down the line, but the council does.

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johnproctor's picture

You are both right.

The market is yelling at developers saying 'we don't need car spaces' and yet City of Yarra stupidly requires developers to build spaces anyway pushing up the cost of development and housing (either for purchasers or renters).

Meanwhile once that space is built it opens up various options for people to exploit it either by personally driving a car or allowing someone else to drive a car to that car spa. Some people who might have thought about not having a car without anywhere to park it will buy one anyway (or accept a 'hand me down' from a parent, or keep a car running when they might otherwise have let it die etc). Others will lease out the space to a third party perhaps another owner in the building who has multiple cars or a nearby worker.

Through my job I know of a residential building in the CBD with 100+ car spaces where about 50% are leased to CBD office workers who drive into the City, a particularly perverse outcome.

Meanwhile economically suggesting that parking provision is some sort of inter-generational wealth issue is a bit strange. If you don't buy a carpark for $50,000 (which will sit on most peoples mortgage at 5% per year for 30 years) you could basically afford a yearly Myki, a new bike and a top of the range car share membership every year for the life of the mortgage and still have vehicle costs (purchase price, fuel, rego, insurance, servicing) as a hip pocket saving. The inner city livers are aware of this and its why car ownership rates are so low and why on almost every measure millenials have lower (and later) license rates, lower car ownership and lower vkt.

And to your last point, actually it is that simple. car ownership rates are going down not up, public transport, uber, car share, bike ridership, motorbikes/scooters are going up. Carparks are likely to be even less necessary in the future than they are today.

And even if they do become required in the future then the market will guide a response and carparks will become a development typology filling in the gap. a 10 storey strata titled carpark in Collingwood providing spaces for people who don't own a space in their own building.

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gobillino's picture

And quite a timely feature in The Economist about a global tendency to mandate minimum car parking, and impact on city planning, in spite of the great disruptors of ride share and self driving cars - http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21720269-dont-let-people-park-fre...

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