Creating a walkable residential precinct: SJB’s Cantala

Aug 23, 2017
  • Article by Online Editor

Set atop an old lawn bowls club in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield is a new multi-residential development that brings in open walkways and landscaped greenery. Cantala, designed by SJB and built by ICON Developments, references the leafy heritage locale by taking subtle cues from the surrounding Art Deco architecture. One of the key features in the design, which recently won best constructed residential architecture project at the Melbourne Design Awards, was preserving an existing walkway that is cherished by the community.

Cantala blends both townhouses and low-rise apartments.
Cantala blends both townhouses and low-rise apartments.

The development combines a mix of 25 multi-storey townhouses and 44 low-rise apartments, all coming together with curving forms and ample green space for the residents. The development is situated at the end of cul-de-sac and is surrounded by a mixture of both contemporary and period buildings. The site offers a sense of seclusion and the architects wanted to ensure that a balance between the community and privacy was carefully resolved. This was achieved by making provisions for a walkable precinct made up with plenty of green space.

The entire development is walkable – all driveways, access roads and cars have been positioned underground, leaving the ground open for landscaping and meandering paths. Some 16,000 plants have been used across the site, helping the new zone feel at home with the more established surroundings.

Walkways were important for communal interaction.
Walkways were important for communal interaction.

When talking about the value in creating lots of green space, ICON’s development manager Kyle Reeve explains that it was an important inclusion to promote health and wellness within the development, along with providing the opportunity for communal engagement. “Cantala is a home community that marries the best of contemporary placemaking and the aesthetics of leafy Melbourne. Sometimes people underestimate the importance of living amongst greenery and vegetated spaces. The boutique size of the development generates a communal and neighbourly feel, while the landscaped walkways promote a healthy lifestyle,” says Reeve.

16,000 plants and trees were planted throughout Cantala.
16,000 plants and trees were planted throughout Cantala.

When discussing the project in more detail and the motivation for taking a different approach, Reeve says, “Cantala provides for residential diversity in what is an otherwise established and expensive suburb.”


“We were initially attracted to buying this site as it gave us a uniquely sized canvas to work with in a quiet cul-de-sac. New changes to planning laws will limit developments of this scale to main roads. Because no development of this scale had been undertaken in the immediate vicinity, we had to complete significant due diligence. We were able to show that there is a scarcity of options in the area for the target market of owner occupiers, downsizers and young families,” Reeve adds.

The lobby features luxurious materials in a neutral palette.
The lobby features luxurious materials in a neutral palette.

Cantala’s mix of townhouse and apartment typologies, along with a mix of public and private spaces, help it to blend within the existing vernacular while bolstering a sense of community. SJB took the alignments of adjacent house properties and stitched them through the site to create a planning grid. An existing escarpment along the north boundary became the natural location for the larger form of the apartment building. This, in turn, suggested a natural unfolding of the townhouses on smaller grid sections. When talking about this process, SJB project director Tristan Wong explains, “We wanted Cantala’s sculptural elements to yield to the eye in a number of slow reveals as the development gently makes its impression.”

Living space.
Living space.


Photography by Aaron Puls.


Take a look at another multi-residential SJB development, Tapestry.

Design your own luminaire range

unltd is a new lighting technology by ambience, which allows creative lighting possibilities that have never been possible before.

Conversation • 0 comments

Add to this conversation



Your email address will not be published.