17 Union Street


This building is a leading character in an urban transformation story for the inner-Melbourne suburb of Brunswick.

The site borders Jewell Station, 5 km north of the CBD, yet its surrounds had become a high-crime area with derelict warehouses and poor visibility.

BKK has transformed the Jewell Station precinct in a multidisciplinary team headed by developer Neometro.

The precinct

Our masterplan moulds Jewell’s disparate and rundown places into a vibrant and safe urban village that will catalyse high-quality development in the area.

An absolutely defining site feature is the Upfield Shared Path, which runs between the building and the railway line. It’s one of Melbourne’s busiest cycling routes, with up to 1000 bikes per hour hurtling through at peak times.

The public realm alongside our building improves this section of the path while providing a wide enough thoroughfare for pedestrians to share.

It’s full and busy but that’s all part of the 17 Union Street experience. The building embraces and enhances its surrounds, it’s not a refuge.

The building

A defining site feature is the Upfield Shared Path, which runs between the building and the railway line.

Our architectural attitude was the antithesis of object-led design: this site was not a canvas for a civic statement. Instead, the building’s identity grew from the precinct’s characteristics and usages and from our public realm.

Its zigzag columns create a contemporary-styled loggia buffering the tenancies from the fast-paced bike and train zones. Vines growing up the columns soften the boundary further.

At the building’s south end, concrete seating and different-coloured pathways politely demarcate the territories of bikes and pedestrians.

Our masterplan included restoring the heritage Jewell station house. BKK collaborated on this with Lovell Chen and with GLAS Landscape Architects on the public realm.

In a significant sustainability move, the entire building is designed for future adaptation. Its frame, a concrete grid, is built to last for many decades, while the apartments and tenancies could easily be replaced.

To facilitate this, the primary structural frame is kept prominent and simple. Items could be fixed to the concrete to reinvent the building multiple times throughout its lifespan.

17 Union St is conceived as part of a bold placemaking exercise: a catalyst for transforming a run-down area into a thriving urban village where architecture offers positive hope for the future.

“For us, it’s often the simple solution that’s most beneficial for the resident: natural light, air, nature and space. BKK amplified each of these with great success.”

– Lochlan Sinclair, Neometro

17 Union Street won the Sustainability Advancement Award at the 2022 Australian Interior Design Awards for its long-life approach. It’s frame is so adaptable that nobody will need to demolish it.

More about sustainability




Clare Cousins Architects, GLAS Landscape, MAArchitects






2019 – 2022


Brunswick, VIC


Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung


Derek Swalwell