Melbourne’s Nightingale 1 sets benchmark for residential buildings

Reshaping Residential Development

From the team that designed the nationally-acclaimed, sustainable urban housing project The Commons, comes a new model of community-led apartments. Nightingale 1, the first project in Breathe Architecture’s Nightingale models, prioritises its occupants over investors. Through sustainability and affordability, the building reshapes the way apartments are developed in cities.

nightingale 1
[Image: Peter Clarke]
Using equity investors to raise funds and placing a cap on profits, Nightingale 1 successfully reduces the cost of operations. This ensures that all Nightingale models are affordable, accessible and engender meaningful participation from future home owners from design through to settlement.

A sustainable future

The sustainability of the Nightingale models further demonstrate their utopian goals: all building operations will be 100% fossil fuel free, have a minimum 7.5 star NatHERS thermal rating and include water harvesting and productive gardens. Nightingale 1 is the first building in Australia to be connected under an embedded network that is 100 percent fossil fuel-free.

nightingale 1
[Image: Peter Clarke]

A collaborative effort

The project is essentially the lovechild of the Melbourne architecture community. Six Degrees Architects, Austin Maynard Architects, Architecture Architecture, Clare Cousins Architects, MRTN Architects and Wolveridge Architects along with the Robin Boyd Foundation all came together to build on the initial concept and fund the benchmark Nightingale project.

Breathe Architecture constructed Nightingale 1 in line with the principles of the German Baugruppen movement. They showcase traditional warehouse aesthetics, paying homage to Brunswick’s industrial heritage.

[Image: Peter Clarke]
The building’s use of recycled cream brick, hand-painted signage and cobblestone entryways evoke the landscape of one-storey brick warehouses that once defined the area. Light-filled and generous in size, the apartments boast waxed timber floors, concrete ceilings and exposed surfaces. Natural Blackbutt timber battens, mild steel plate and inset coir matting nooks line lift lobbies, which lead to the apartments.

Nightingale 1 also makes ample use of green spaces. Northern apartments look out through a shipping chain screen occupied by deciduous grape vines. Winter gardens running up the southern facade. Meanwhile, clusters of lush vegetation shadow the rooftop decks, which overlook the city. Additionally, the rooftop contains a simple communal laundry, a potting shed, water tanks, an outdoor dining room and garden plots.

nightingale 1
[Image: Kate Longley]
“The project was about building a place that people wanted to live in, a place they would love, a place they would call home,” state Breathe Architecture. “At it’s heart, Nightingale is all about people. Its architecture serves as a catalyst to unite a group with similar values and build community.”

Catering to a growing Australia

Australia’s population will grow from 22 to 36 million by 2050. 6.5 million new housing units will be necessary in the next 35 years. The 2016 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey reported that all Australia’s metropolitan hotspots were ‘severely unaffordable.’ Additionally, the lack of minimum design standards in Australian cities show most apartments are not designed for living, but rather as speculative financial assets.

nightingale 1
[Image: Peter Clarke]
Addressing these concerns, the Nightingale buildings are environmentally sustainable, financially affordable and socially inclusive. Ahead of the curve, they create good outcomes for the urban environment and homeowners’ quality of life.

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