Rather the client’s ambitions were to provide high levels of amenity and a european sensibility. So we proposed a slim perimeter block around a generous central courtyard reminiscent of Italian housing models that contain a private inner world behind a strong street frontage.
To obtain planning approval in support of this proposal required us to challenge the default approach for heritage additions which then entailed setting back the new envelope from the heritage base towards a wedding cake of sorts. We demonstrated to City of Yarra, through extensive diagramming and analysis of the context, that by building to the site perimeter the massing aligned with the established pattern in Fitzroy of zero setbacks – the Macrobertsons Factories for example – and yielded vastly superior amenity within and adjacent to the development. Occupants benefit from dual aspect dwellings and neighbours with a view into a large, well-vegetated courtyard, far in excess of the minimum setback from their windows required by regulation. In the words of the arbitrator at a planning VCAT pre-hearing mediation: “You won’t get a better outcome than this,”.
The final development consists of 51 dwellings (43 apartments and 8 townhouses), car and bike spaces, a large landscaped courtyard and communal garden terrace with views across the city. The existing two-storey heritage building was converted into double storey townhouses along the street frontages, retaining the industrial history. Above this distinctive red brick base sit three new wings, up to 6 additional storeys, separated by open corner circulation stairs that take in views over Fitzroy. The west and east facing wings are metal clad with openings comparable in scale to those of adjacent industrial buildings while the south west corner wing reinforces the site’s distinctive brick corner character with a new layer of brick subtly distinguished from the original through colour and detail.