Innovation Through Collaboration – Nth FITZROY by Milieu
Fitzroy North, VIC, Australia
Take a stroll uptown past the eclectic assortment of Victorian heritage terraces, majestic green gardens, forgotten spaces of industrial progression and chic low rise multi residential buildings to discover Nth FITZROY by Milieu – an innovative vertical living space destined to dominate the skyline of the Melbourne suburb for which it was named. Step inside the impressive four level building to discover the collaborative excellence that lies at the core of this project’s design.
Much lauded for its wide, tree-lined streets and grungy, almost alternative, character; Fitzroy North has emerged as the epicentre for a new wave of innovative vertical living. The latest offering to grace the Fitzroy North skyline is Nth FITZROY by Milieu – a carefully considered collaboration between progressive urban developer Milieu, architecture practice Fieldwork and award-winning interior designers Flack Studio. Ultimately the project was a journey to discover respectful architectural equilibrium when placed amongst the historical streets of Melbourne’s alternative social fulcrum.
“The context broadly is a mixture of Victorian terrace heritage, green open space and low-rise multi-residential buildings,” states Quino Holland, director of Fieldwork. “The proposal for the new apartment building needed to acknowledge and converse with the scale of the church across the road, to the road itself and with two adjacent building typologies; a row of single-storey heritage Victorian terrace houses and a 1960’s walk-up apartment block.”
Fitzroy North has emerged as the epicentre for a new wave of innovative vertical living.
Situated within the epicentre of Fitzroy North’s enviable cafe culture; a short walk from Rathdowne Village’s epicurean retailers, the live music, restaurant and bar scene of Brunswick Street, and the lush green enclave of Carlton and Edinborough Gardens, this four level, 26 apartment, vertical community is an innovative example of Milieu’s commitment to contributing spaces of influence to the Melbourne housing market and society in general. “The site was a disused motor mechanics that had fallen into disrepair and was quite well known in the area as an eyesore,” explains Shannon Peach, Co-director of Milieu. “We obtained the site and began working with Fieldwork and Flack Studio almost immediately. We wanted to create a building that was considered and responsive – reflecting the rhythm of the day.”
Passers-by cannot fail to recognise the unmistakable façade cloaked in expanded metal mesh and integrated, operable shutters that allow the building to breathe and coexist with the natural surroundings like a living organism that echoes to rhythmic heartbeat of the Melbourne city streets. Nth FITZROY’s unique exterior not only allows occupants to influence their personal outlooks but also treats the unwitting onlooker to an ever-changing kaleidoscope of configurations. “One of the sources of inspiration for this project was the fantastic classic 1960s six-pack walk-up apartment next door,” elaborates Quino Holland. “We drew from this, the use of external circulation spaces, which not only allow access to natural airflow, but the central atrium and stair become the true soul of the building, providing circulation and ventilation through the heart of the structure but also allowing access to lush greenery and creating social spaces.”
The mesh hull is thoughtfully protean, designed by Fieldwork to deliver both form and function. It enhances the building’s thermal performance by creating shade and reducing heat on glazed surfaces, whilst acting as a conduit for diffused sunlight that creates a natural play of light and shadow throughout the day. “The client brief for Nth FITZROY Apartments was to create a “breathable” complex,” states Quino. “This breathability was achieved by cloaking the building in a mesh veil of operable shutters and fixed screens, the translucent building form allowing air and natural light to pass freely into the apartments, through to a central atrium.” The occupants inherent need for privacy doesn’t diminish the external vantage as, come nightfall, the warm filtered glow from within invokes a sense of candlelit congeniality, thus skilfully reflecting the suburban surroundings of the building.
Inside the impressive façade, Flack Studio’s judicious selection of high quality materials and finishes has created a tactile living space with thoroughly seductive aesthetic qualities. The primal senses evoked by natural stone in the kitchens and bathrooms is juxtaposed with fine detailing and accents throughout each residence to achieve a harmonious and polished finish.
Ultimately the project was a journey to discover respectful architectural equilibrium.
“Flack Studio’s interior scheme complemented the stunning architectural bones designed by Fieldwork,” states Shannon Peach. “Following their lead with a nod to the Japanese hallmarks of simplicity and function, Flack Studio’s judicious selection of textured and high quality materials and finishes has created tactile living space with seductive aesthetic qualities.” Functionality is achieved through clever storage solutions which are intuitively designed to maximise living space; a sense of space which is further reinforced by 2.8 metre high exposed concrete ceilings.
“We worked very closely with Flack Studio on the overall concept, and as a result the internal and external palettes work very well in conjunction with each other,” explains Quino Holland. “While we went for a more paired back and simple exterior aesthetic, this allowed Flack to create something much richer, colourful and homely internally.”
Apartments are connected internally via a central open-air atrium with shared walkways, greenery and spacious communal areas, further enhancing the sense of community created by the building. Designed to cultivate wellbeing and offer the opportunity for social exchange, the atrium also affords further cross flow ventilation.
Back the street level, Nth FITZROY’s corner site further aims to embrace its locality by bringing together occupants and local residents alike at the Flack Studio designed Lagotto restaurant.
“We wanted to create a building that was considered and responsive – reflecting the rhythm of the day.”
When asked what aspect of the project evoked the greatest sense of pride Shannon Peach replied simply, “Creating a sense of community. This was the direct motive for creating the open-air garden atrium and central stair for casual interactions between residents,” explains Shannon. “As well as carrying the interior language through to the Milieu Hospitality project, designed by Flack Studio – Lagotto an all-day Italian café and food store where residents can meet for a glass of wine and enjoy an eat in or take-home meal.”
Milieu has always drawn inspiration from the unique physical and social atmosphere created through Melbourne locality. This simple fact, partnered with Fieldwork’s commitment to a more environmentally conscious world and Flack Studio’s desire to transform vision into experiences, has resulted in Nth FITZROY – a refined multi residential development in which functionality nurtures connection and sustainable wellbeing.