The inaugural collaboration between Plus Architecture and the non-for-profit housing provider Unison exemplifies a leap forward in urban regeneration.
In July of this year, Plus Architecture completed the $18.3 million multi-residential development of 260 Bell Street for Unison Housing, funded by Homes Victoria and constructed by Mansrea Constructions.
This development is part of the wider $5.3 billion Big Housing Build that hopes to deliver greater social and affordable housing to those in need across metropolitan and regional Victoria.
The six-storey-high and 42-apartment-capacity 260 Bell Street has been gladly welcomed into the neighbourhood not only for the sculptural form’s natural blend into the existing streetscape, but also for its close proximity to areas of service, education and employment, thus bolstering the neighbourhood’s social vibrancy and quality of life.
Only 9.5 kilometres north from the Melbourne CBD in Heidelberg Heights, the development highlights Plus Architecture’s penchant for place-based design.
Plus Architecture principal Jessica Liew explains how the inclusion of large setbacks and staggered terracing to the north of the building enhances the curved sculptural form and establishes a unique design language.
“The architectural gestures create a harmonious relationship with the neighbouring structures – the elegant shapes follow the natural flow of the land and the building nestles into the rich topography of the raised site,” says Liew.
A combination of curved lines, expressed edges and wide balconies further achieve an inviting and calming atmosphere. The design also aimed to layer the building’s façade with a cocktail of contrasting materials – double glazing and tiered levels ensure both privacy and a blissful living experience.
One of the main visions propelling the Victorian Government’s urban regeneration plans forward is to make high-quality living environments that are affordable and accessible.
This vision is noted through the thoughtful and judicious selection of the building’s façade materials, yet also the spacious apartment sizes that have open living spaces and high ceilings to boot.
The design further chased the high-quality living aspiration through practical kitchens, bedrooms featuring built-in robes and temperature control, balconies boasting scenic views and convenient underground parking.
Ensuring that the apartments were safe, secure and comfortable was paramount to the design, as the development will house families who are on the highest priority category of the Victorian Housing Register.
Unison is tasked with developing, managing and maintaining 260 Bell Street, and the Place Management Team’s collaboration with local services will specifically work to foreground sustainable and enriching tenancy experiences.
Unison Housing’s CEO James King says he is thrilled that Unison is involved in an initiative that is making social housing safe and affordable.
“For 42 families, this development represents an opportunity for a new start to life. It is a place where people can live with dignity, stay well, raise their family, make memories and connect within a community,” says King.
Minister for Housing of Victoria Colin Brooks confirmed that 260 Bell Street is only the start of the Victorian Government’s steadfast response to homelessness via investing in productive and solid solutions.
Photography by Tom Roe.
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