Reimagining the Traditional Housing Model - Wellington Street Mixed Use House by Matt Gibson Architecture
St Kilda, VIC, Australia
Melbourne’s ideal housing model is shifting due to factors such as population growth and escalated housing costs. Multi-generational housing is becoming increasingly popular and there is a place in the market to approach new ways of living to ensure the modern dweller’s needs are met. As responsive designers, Matt Gibson Architecture and Design are reimagining the traditional housing typologies to suit a more dynamic and urban lifestyle.
The Wellington Street Mixed Use project, which incorporates Mixed Use House, is a collaborative effort between Matt Gibson Architecture and Design and their clients, Maryanne Quealy and David McCallum of DDB Design Development & Building. Together they have pioneered this project as an emerging shift in architectural design to be a multi-generational home that provides its occupants with flexibility and a cohesive integration of their lifestyle.
Home to Maryanne, David, their two adult children with partners, and their youngest teenaged daughter, Mixed Use House is a place where this varied group of people require large communal areas to come together as much as they require their own areas of privacy and individuality. The concept of stacked glass boxes was put forward to serve as an apartment-like living environment within a greater shared space.
The property is located in a mixed-use zone of St Kilda, which was one of the initial triggers of exploration into the adaptive potential for the design. Sliced between the densely urbanised Wellington Street to the south, and pulsing Princes Highway to the north, the two differing environments help define the facades to either side.
Entering the home from Wellington Street, there is a glimpse into the past of the site’s history from a retained brick wall that guides upwards to the first level entrance of the home. The street level of Wellington Street Mixed Use is occupied by a commercial studio tenancy to meet council zoning requirements.
The rest of the property is then reserved for its current purpose of residential living, however, the beauty of MixedUse House is that the design does not stop there, and the opportunity for future functions is left deliberately flexible and unconstrained.
From within, natural light beams through the central atrium that links the adjoining segments of the home and promotes interconnectivity and communication between floors. Interior zones transition upwards and outwards through the atrium from those of gathering to areas of respite. The need for artificial lighting is greatly reduced by this structural void which is topped with a mechanical external shade to help mediate Melbourne’s warmer months.
The objective at the rear of the building is the maximisation of relationship to the local biology. Backing onto a public park provides a natural amenity to the family which is largely surrounded by the built environment. Broad, foliage-height windows are dappled by the neighbouring eucalypts whilst providing another form of passive resourcing by absorbing the northern sun to the interior of the home.
The hybrid nature of this property successfully challenges typical patterns of occupancy within our society. It is a design of unbounded offerings for both now and years to come, as a simultaneous celebration of community and diversity that is responding to a need that will help guide Melbourne’s future towards a more sustainable living culture.