This truly innovative scheme won a 2008 design competition for the Victorian Department of Human Services in partnership with the Office of the Victorian Government Architect.
Its purpose was to improve the sustainability, appearance and amenity of Melbourne’s 1970’s public housing towers, starting with this one in the inner-west suburb of Footscray.
It’s a 13-storey tower with 180 bedsits. Like all towers of its style around Melbourne, the façades lack solar protection and insulation.
BKK and Peter Elliott led a design team also including TCL, Sense Architecture, Felicetti Engineers and artist Robert Owen.
Our team designed 1.2m by 3m bay-window lounge pods to extend the apartments.
Each pod replaces the external precast panel wall of an individual apartment, sliding in and extending the occupiable space by 4.8 square metres or 23 per cent.
Pods are insulated and double glazed with a frame that extends beyond the window as an eave.
The cantilevered floor shades the window below. Between the pods, many windows have steel awnings added.
Our design approach was finding small changes that would lead to big gains. E.g., the height of a window sill or the addition of a shelf can make vast improvements to the apartments’ liveability.
The tower’s residents could not move out, so our brief included a construction methodology that was very quick and minimised disruption.
It’s a lightweight timber-framed structure developed with cad-cam technology so the structural components can be efficiently cut and assembled offsite.
The frame can be cut and constructed in a single day, clad in 10 days and installed in under four hours.
When installed, a pod is 85 per cent complete. Each one’s façade’s R rating is 2.8, compared to 0.3 for the original precast concrete wall.
So far, only a prototype has been delivered, but the pods suit all towers of this design.
The scheme also includes a pergola running the length of the entrance façade, rainwater harvesting for communal laundries, roof-mounted wind turbines, and landscaping.