The Nightingale Model: multi-residential dwellings for the future

January 22, 2016

In 2007, five architects developed the Commons, a multi residential project that was ecologically, financially and socially sustainable. The building’s model is arguably one that sets the standard for future developments in Australia, and showcases a trend that we will be seeing more of in the near future.

“Our urban, inner-urban and suburban zones all require densification to accommodate a swelling population – projected to be between 36 and 42 million people by 2050.”

“Rethinking suburbia now typically involves developments consisting of mixed typologies that provide lifestyle choice and affordability options”

 - Architecture & Design Forecast 2016

As the Forecast notes, due to densification and a constant population rise, home for many people will undoubtedly be an apartment or townhouse in the near future. These dwellings will also cater for different types of residents. Multi-generational living will have a significant impact on densities.

A rethinking of suburbia for many Australians who are attached to the idea of home being on a wide, open quarter acre of block is underway. While medium density living does not involve a big backyard, it does provide a variety of highly regarded amenities, including proximity to the city, a greater sense of community, sustainability, affordability, and vertical or rooftop gardens. The extent of these amenities, however, relies on smart, considered, and innovative design.

For an apartment dwelling to stand out and be attractive to Australians in the near future, elements of added value must be incorporated – such as sustainable motives and designs that present sincere consideration for those who reside within, as was done within the Commons.

The Commons, a multi residential project, was developed in 2007 by a group of architects. The ecologically, financially and socially sustainable building sits next to the train tracks in Melbourne’s Brunswick, and its model is arguably one that sets the standard for future developments in Australia, showcasing a trend that we will be seeing more of when it comes to multi-res housing.

Following the success of the Commons, the architectural collective put down plans to construct the Nightingale, a building of the same ethos. Both developments follow the Nightingale Model, delivering quality, medium density housing that is sustainable, something that is currently not widely available yet predicted to become of greater importance to the public. The Model’s sustainable agenda is clear – the buildings were both originally designed with no car parks, include a shared laundry, and sustainable materials were selected for the building process – but its forward-thinking does not end there. The design is individual in its effort to provide further amenities to its residents that assist this required reconsideration of suburbia.

The Model works to connect the residents with one another and create a sense of community through veggie patches, beehives, and social areas upon the rooftop – a consolation for a backyard (apartments also have their own balconies). Raw interiors allow residents to make the apartments their own, while its location, right in the heart of Brunswick, reduces transport costs and concerns.

“The formula of affordability…thoughtful design, comfortable scale and urban engagement promises to make apartment living more ‘livable’ and closer to human needs than high-rise, while still addressing the need for density,” the Forecast says of the Model.

The quest to provide a development outside of the norm – however forward-thinking it is – has not come easily. With the Model’s lack of car parks leading to the plans for the Nightingale have been challenged and its council approval overturned. The architectural collective are still fighting to have the building made possible.

Challenging industry mindsets is a necessary movement, for without change nothing can improve. The success of the Commons, and thus of the Nightingale Model, supports research within the Architecture and Design Forecast that claims imaginative architecture, sustainability and a connection with the resident is the way of the future. Now, its just time for regulators to catch up.



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