Lothian is a development on an island site in North Melbourne. The housing mix is unusual, consisting of six four-storey plus roof garden strata-titled townhouses and two stacked two-storey apartments, one with a roof garden. The design was inspired by the North Melbourne context – local examples of nineteenth and early twentieth century industrial buildings – handsomely scaled edifices of manufacturing’s golden age.
Locally sourced red bricks, the dominant material of these reference buildings, informed the material expression of the building, manifesting familiar, grand scale with texture and fine-grained detail. The balancing of formal expression and high-quality domestic space into a single architectural language in a legible, logical, convincing and practical sense is the success of the project. And beautiful – in the sense of being a valued part of the urban realm.
The dwellings in this building are diverse, notably there are larger unit types which can comfortably accommodate a family. The other contribution is in the provision of privacy and security to inhabitants within a building with zero street set-back. The dwellings are very much vertical arrangements, which accentuate the sense of threshold as inhabitants ascend the stairs to more private and secures zones and come upon unexpected sectional experiences that provide a sense of generous scale and volume not commonly associated with this typology. Street interfaces have been carefully considered with entries raised a half level from the footpath – maintaining privacy within close proximity to the street and allowing the ground floor bedroom or study to be both secure and visually separated from passers-by.
A primary design intention was to make generous habitations. Generous, in terms of space, volume and quality, but also in terms of the arrangement of spaces, to afford a sense of privacy in a relatively dense urban environment.
Lighting: Daniel Emma, Artemide. Finishes: Krause Bricks, James Hardie, Bonnie and Neil. Fittings & Fixtures: Brodware, Caroma, Reece, Mizu, Reece.
Photography: Derek Swalwell