A Thriving Local Community – Nightingale 2 by Six Degrees Architects and HIP V. HYPE
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Nightingale 2, designed by Six Degrees Architects with development and project management by HIP V. HYPE, was completed in August 2019. With the residents now moved in, the building is taking on a life of its own. The second project completed under the Nightingale Model, Nightingale 2 represents the growth of a thriving local community coming to fruition.
The site’s position adjacent to Fairfield metro station in Melbourne’s north defined the project during the design and construction process and continues to shape life for the residents who now call Nightingale 2 home. Six Degrees Architects initially found the site, which is “unusual in its position between street and rail. This was both a win and a challenge,” says Jessica Wood, head of Community and Communications at Nightingale Housing. The position meant the architects had four aspects to the building, allowing maximum light and ventilation without the considerations of overshadowing and overlooking that impact most inner-urban sites. “It also meant that neighbouring buildings are unlikely to be built up against Nightingale 2 in the foreseeable future, and it is surrounded by mature native trees and green. Of course, the proximity to public transport is hard to improve on,” Jessica says.
Sharing a boundary line with a railway line, however, “also made it a very complicated build. Considerations of power lines, crane positioning, and avoiding disruption of train services all had to be negotiated with different service providers. It also meant carefully specifying the right materials and design for noise reduction,” she explains. Six Degrees Architects and HIP V. HYPE integrated solving many of these challenges into the project’s wider imperative of improved thermal efficiency and resistance, with additional insulation, reduced glazing and optimised window frames meaning that “each apartment is provided with greater privacy, reduced noise, reduced heat gain and loss and more wall space to personalise their home,” says Liam Wallis, founding director of HIP V. HYPE. “Our involvement in Nightingale 1 provided a critical base of learning, which enabled boundaries to be pushed in building envelope efficiency, electric heat pump systems and electrical embedded network systems for Nightingale 2.”
The site’s position adjacent to Fairfield metro station in Melbourne’s north defined the project during the design and construction process and continues to shape life for the residents who now call Nightingale 2 home.
The project, while it represents an evolution and continuation of Nightingale 1, is also very much its own – both in terms of design and of the community that is becoming established now that the building is complete. “Ultimately they are quite different projects, especially being in different local government areas and with different architects,” says Jessica. Another key difference lies in the fact that “the Nightingale 2 crew don’t have the Nightingale Housing office on their ground floor and The Commons across the road and all the community-building that inadvertently comes with [these two established communities].” Therefore, she expresses that Nightingale 2 is “a real test case for the effectiveness of the resident engagement process during construction and of the design and its ability to support community.”
In the eight months since the building was completed, the residents have established sub-committees for waste and garden, planning art days in the common room (a communal indoor space located on the rooftop that can be used for social occasions, special meetings, and children’s birthday parties) “and there are lots of playdates, childminding, and new childhood friendships emerging,” Jessica says. “They also keep a spreadsheet of all the things owned by residents that they are willing to lend out such as tools, utensils, appliances and toys. This is so they can avoid buying things they don’t need all the time, saving money, materials and storage space. It is incredible to witness all this taking shape.”
“Ultimately they are quite different projects, especially being in different local government areas and with different architects.”
This organic growth of community in the building is a testament to a design that prioritises shared spaces and resources, and crafts individual homes that become a supportive foundation for the lives of the inhabitants. While there is a broad spread of demographics living in the building, Jessica explains that, in line with the Nightingale emphasis on both quality and affordability, “customisation of the apartments was kept to a minimum due to economy of scale. The more consistent the apartment design, the more affordable it will be.” As a result, the design is intended to be flexible and robust – able to respond to a variety of different lifestyles and demographics and to be low-maintenance and enduring. “Hardwood floors, concrete walls, double-glazing and solid plywood cabinetry should require very little maintenance over time,” Jessica says. “Further, the apartments are designed to be lived in long-term and the Nightingale Caveat encourages people to age in place. As such, all apartments, and in fact, the whole building, is step-less and accessible.”
With the kitchen as a focal point of contemporary homes, the imperative was to design “efficient and compact kitchens but also provide an opportunity to introduce some personality, materiality and a sense of the bespoke,” Jessica explains. Appliances by Nightingale Premier Design Sponsor Fisher & Paykel were key to both achieving these aims, and, more broadly, to delivering buildings that are free from fossil fuels. With no natural gas plumbed into the building, all cooking appliances specified by Fisher & Paykel are electric. “Both the ovens and induction cooktops are powered by green power, as are the washing machines. This is the true nature of the partnership with Fisher & Paykel. Their products are at the usable end of Nightingale’s sustainability criteria,” Jessica says.
Appliances by Nightingale Premier Design Sponsor Fisher & Paykel were key to both achieving these aims.
As a single piece of black glass, the induction cooktops specified doubles as bench space when not in use. The minimalist aesthetic of the built-in ovens not only harmonises with the simplicity of the apartment interiors, but the contrast between the black glass and stainless steel speaks to the material contrast found throughout Nightingale 2, with the light and dark linear grid elements of the façade echoed in the kitchen cabinetry, window frames and fittings. Black form-ply, a simple industrial material that Six Degrees Architects introduced to the local design palette in the 1990s, is utilised for the kitchen cabinetry, while elements of brass, mirror, steel and stone “help provide a richness and texture to the kitchen with each providing a specific function,” says Jessica. The dishwasher is fully integrated, allowing the cabinetry to be uninterrupted and read consistently, providing the visual seamlessness important within a compact apartment context. Similarly, a built-in rangehood is discretely integrated into the the overhead cabinets, providing ventilation while not imposing on the design and allowing the overhead storage to be maximised.
As the Nightingale Model continues to go from strength to strength, with a further six projects currently underway, Nightingale 2 is living proof of possibly the greatest strength of all – the ability to provide a foundation from which strong, vibrant and diverse communities can grow and flourish.