A Kinetic Expression – Alumna Residences by Wood Marsh
Port Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Words Bronwyn Marshall

Bound by its slight and contained site, the Alumna Residences express kinetic sculptural references in the two façades that engage with the streetscape. Wood Marsh combines a study of materiality and form in sculpting these elevated exemplars in apartment living, embedded with a sense of longevity and endurability.

Tucked into the tightly woven urban fabric of Port Melbourne, the Alumna Residences sit flanked by an eclectic coming together of architectural styles – a testament to time and the development of the area. The proposal sits lofted above its neighbours and wrapped in its own unique and engaging façade. The dynamic nature of its faceted glass-panelled frontage encourages an interplay with incoming light, changing in colour and hue throughout the day as the sun and climatic conditions alter. The twisted notions entrenched in the building’s face act to animate the street and create a unique and identifiable destination for its occupants, while also deflecting sight in and creating idyllic private conditions internally. Wood Marsh brings notions of movement through reflection and refraction as the building engages with its context.

The twisted notions entrenched in the building’s face act to animate the street and create a unique and identifiable destination for its occupants, while also deflecting sight in and creating idyllic private conditions internally.

Built by Schiavello Construction, the Alumna Residences are entered from the building’s under croft, where a dark timber belly reveals itself and pulls the visitor inward. The deliberate sense of atmosphere and drama is felt from the onset, which is then carried throughout the journey of traversing through the building and into each apartment. Greeted by the custom art installation on ground floor uses subtlety and a theatrical approach to build a sense of excitement and anticipation, akin to entering a public building of some kind. Bronze and darkened timber both work together to imbue a broody sensibility and wrap the space in a little drama, leading up to the residences.

Once within, the built up feeling of anticipation is met with an enveloping sense of calm. Deliberately, each home is arranged to feel like its own sanctuary and a place of recharge as a result. Looking outward, there is a sense of protection created by the way the concertina façade shapes and deflects sightlines. A combination of robust and highly detailed joinery and monolithic sculptural gestures ensure the relevance of the home will last well beyond its years, conceived as it is from a timeless perspective.

Looking outward, there is a sense of protection created by the way the concertina façade shapes and deflects sightlines.

Wood Marsh’s Alumna Residences carefully navigate the L-shaped site with ease, both activating the streetscape and the pedestrian experience while crafting a carefully considered series of homes intended to endure.

Published 2 June, 2021
Photography  Willem-Dirk du Toit
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