Dynamic Contextualism – Breese Street by Milieu, DKO and Breathe Architecture
Building upon a clear understanding of place, community and an ever-increasing density of suburban locations, Breese Street inserts itself ambitiously yet respectfully into its context. Through the establishment of true collaboration between developer Milieu and local architects DKO and Breathe Architecture, the subsequent building talks to the neighbourhood vernacular, echoing form and material application.
Underpinned by defining criteria of authenticity, liability and sustainability, Breese Street offers an integrated and inherently welcoming environment. Behind its honest brick frontage, sound principles and skilful placemaking flow through the one, two and three-bedroom apartments, exhibiting raw materiality and durable surfaces that are designed to celebrate the wear resultant of everyday life. The usual challenge of encouraging enough light and green space has been thoughtfully resolved by reflecting surrounding architectural forms and additional shared rooftop green spaces. Allowing each resident access to communal garden plots, larger entertaining areas and even honey produced from rooftop hives, Milieu, DKO and Breathe achieve a balance not commonly found in multi-residential complexes.
Inherent to the design strategy, optimised thermal efficiency and orientation facilitate natural ventilation, fostering independence from artificial heating or cooling. Breese Street is one hundred per cent sustainably powered and has achieved a landmark energy efficiency star rating, clearly demonstrating the investment of all parties involved. Access for each apartment to monitor their energy usage and communal ownership of infrastructure, which includes the expansive solar system, ensures residents have data and the ability to actively reduce their energy consumption. Considered glazing creates a porous interface between apartments and green areas, providing a constant connection to light and nature while ensuring individuality and privacy where required. Combined with adept layering of private to social zones, the resultant journey from seclusion to immersion within the larger building community continues and extends into the wider Brunswick context.
True to its intent, interior materiality is defined by extensive areas of reclaimed waxed timber flooring and exposed concrete ceilings, with lighting and services casually left exposed. Plywood joinery elicits a sense of subtle, tactile warmth while terrazzo used in the island benchtop creates a visually textured feature, combining to inject soft colour variation into the crisp light palette. Australian-made rumbled brass fixtures repeated throughout each apartment imbue a conscious selection of materials, coupled with reduced carbon footprints and expressive characteristics. Recessive corrugated sheeting to northern roof form contrast dramatically against moments of deliberate articulation, evidenced in the punctuated brickwork at street level; this allows shifts in hierarchy and scale to demonstrate a deft understanding of interaction, achieved mainly through layering.
Drawing upon experience in generating rich and varied built typologies, the collaboration between Milieu, DKO, and Breathe creates a strong and dynamic architectural presence with a defined relationship to aspect, landscape, and streetscape. Remarkable clarity and unity across the entirety of the project results in a robust yet sensitive architecture, grounded in an acute awareness of surrounding context.