The Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung
4000 m2 / 43 000 sf
Danielle Peck, Alex Roome
Johnston Street, which runs east-west through the inner-city suburbs of Carlton, Collingwood and Abbotsford, is not only an arterial connecting the leafy suburbs of Studley Park and Kew to the city, but is home to a significant number of creative practices. The arts community has established a network of related business activity and studios here that will need protection and inclusion in future commercial development.
Architecture Associates were approached to provide ideas for the development of a major site along Johnston Street in Abbotsford. We saw this as an opportunity to set an example and utilise the communities creative, sustainable and eclectic character to design a commercial building that enhances these qualities by embedding them within our design.
The heavy brick base mimics the light-industrial warehouse that currently stands on the site - the iconic saw-tooth roof line emblazoned into the facade. This offers the community a sense of continuity and allows the local fabric to be preserved in memory. The brick base also provides a robust ground floor material with excellent thermal properties that can deliver high-performing sustainable interior spaces.
A light-weight metal-clad ‘crown’ tapers from the solid base to create an over-sized sculptural roof that appears oddly and curiously over-scaled for a house, but yet is still able to have a relationship with the well-preserved Victorian terrace houses that line the street behind. This design avoids the pitfalls of another generic ‘box’ design that is too often replicated poorly throughout commercial development. Warm colours adorn the facade, a welcoming building ensues.
The corner location provides excellent opportunities for activating the street; the Johnston Street frontage well suited to large picture windows for purveying inside, and the current site’s art gallery occupant could consider an up-graded space here. The side street, leafy and well-shaded provides a welcome reprieve from the faster pace of Johnston Street and would be the ideal location for a restaurant or cafe.
We proposed the east facade, required to be a fireproof wall of robust material, and also visually prominent when arriving from the east hill, include a public art commission in recognition to the many creative practices and long history of artists spaces in the area. In collaboration with local artist, Michelle Hamer, our proposal sought to utilise this otherwise blank wall to display a public work that she would especially design for this building.
The resulting scheme is highly articulated, nuanced and deliberately playful in its nature. Oversized windows, activated awnings and warm colours all contributing to a unique commercial proposal. One that the community could be proud of.