Design that Sparks Curiosity - Whitlam Place by Freadman White
Fitzroy, VIC, Australia
Imbedded with moments that spark curiosity, Whitlam Place is conceived as a brutalist Scarpa-inspired solid form, sitting atop a light-filled transparent box. Referencing proportions of the neighbouring Fitzroy Town Hall, Freadman White’s design takes its cues from the neighbouring context.
Whitlam Place sits in the inner-urban suburb of Fitzroy, just north of Melbourne’s CBD. Its proximity between hospitality-rich Smith, Gertrude and Brunswick Streets makes it an enviable location. Together with Milieu Property, Freadman White has taken the opportunity to propose an architectural response that speaks to its surroundings, while also having its own unique identity. Implanted throughout there is an added sense of curiosity and play – in the form, punctuation of the façade and the material selection and application. Built by Visioneer Builders, the result is a series of eleven apartments, each with its own personality.
Formally, there is an undeniable Carlo Scarpa influence in the bold and unapologetic brutalist use of materiality. This interestingly sits in contrast to the many worker’s cottages and Victorian-era frontages that dot the streets that surround. The height and proportions of the overall form, though, bring back a sense of connection to site, and are a respectful acknowledgment of the neighbouring classical Fitzroy Town Hall with references to the classical Corinthian columns and ornate detail. Sitting below the solid formal gesture then, is a light-filled, and purposefully active, transparent box. The tension between weightiness, materiality and permeability are the first hints of curiosity upon entry.
Externally, the copper façade is applied with an oxide finish to actively pursue the natural patina. Together with the textural variation of the concrete and bronze tones, layered landscaped elements add a playful complexity. Its location adjacent a small open community park also allows for the building to be a public sculpture of sorts, and form part of the public realm. Continuing internally, the strong presence of individuality was key, allowing for custom sizing and adjusted planning for favourite furniture pieces and collected objects.
The architecture plays a strong part in defining the internal spaces, where each punctuated opening creates a curated image and experience of the view beyond. Internally, the depth, detailing and texture are then expressed as a sculptural element around which circulation flows. The penthouse apartment, for example, includes a series of curved glass opening, wrapping around a private south-facing courtyard toward the park. Additionally, custom terrazzo stone has been fashioned throughout, and applied based on the client and their own expression of space. The planning also responds to use, where active living spaces being intentionally large and connected to the exterior, while the passive sleeping spaces are more modestly provided for.
Throughout, there is a clear sense of playfulness and expression. Freadman White has taken the opportunity to work with the individual buyers, and create moments of individuality, moments that make a home unique, that speak to the inhabitants’ quirks and wants. A unique experience to create such specialised spaces in such an inner-urban dense residential environment, Whitlam Place is paving its own path as to what our future built worlds could entail.