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Richmond complex rethinks 60s-era apartment buildings

Jan 19, 2018
  • Article by Online Editor

The Coppin Street apartments, dubbed the “Richmond six-pack”, reinterpret the 60s era, predominantly three-storey, brick apartments dispersed throughout inner Melbourne. Richmond, to the east of the Melbourne CBD and adjacent to significant parkland and sporting precincts, is undergoing considerable urban transformation through large-scale residential developments along major transport links. This project site, however, is set within a quieter residential street of freestanding family homes and intermittent walk-up apartments with minimal setbacks from side boundaries and visually dominant on-site car parking. The site was formerly occupied by a single weatherboard dwelling.

coppinsnl-1-3The Richmond six-pack, with a brief to increase site density, consists of five one- bedroom units and a single two-bedroom unit. It reinterprets the traditional six-pack model through the removal of car parking, increased engagement with the street and improved internal amenity. Taking advantage of the nearby train and tram routes, and the extensive bicycle path network, the design proposes bicycle parking and access to public transport in lieu of private vehicle ownership. Removing on-site car parking became a core value of the project, one vigorously pursued through design and planning to provide an alternative living option.

The key design objective of the two-storey form was to use the angled roof, derived from a mapping of solar access to the southern neighbour, as a device to wrap the residential units and define the form. As a result, the project graduates and addresses the street at the scale and articulation of a single dwelling, allowing for a more considered and welcome inclusion in the neighbourhood.

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Residents enter the building through a transitional forecourt that incorporates bicycle parking and leads into a shared lobby with illuminated storage cages. The articulation of storage cages along with the exposed concrete floor and ceiling express a robust industrial aesthetic. Custom lighting is used to soften and enhance the ephemeral nature of the space drawing occupants and visitors from the street through the lobby and up the central light-filled stair. Once inside the apartments, the material palette moderates through the use of timber, stone, tile and bold colour to create contemporary living spaces unique to each unit.

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Internal unit amenity is achieved through flexible floor plans using large sliding doors to define living and sleeping zones. This adaptability encourages residents to take ownership of the space. High ceilings and expansive glazing provide a sense of openness, defying the small apartment footprints, reinforced by visual links to the outdoors. Mezzanine spaces further enhance the individuality of each unit, accommodating a diverse range of occupants.

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The Richmond six-pack is a successful integration of increased density into a prominently single dwelling street. The flexible amenity and individuality of the internal spaces create a widely appealing and harmonious living environment. Through considered design, this project contributes to the existing streetscape and neighbourhood and through utilising transport options other than cars to become a model for inner-city infill development.

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