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Wings clipped on Breathe Architecture’s alternative Nightingale apartments

Wings clipped on Breathe Architecture’s alternative Nightingale apartments


Article by ADR contributor, Sara Kirby. Image render courtesy The Nightingale group.

With the threat of climate change reaching critical mode and every generation becoming more environmentally aware than the last, a sustainable and eco-driven apartment building seems set to be the next big thing.

Victoria’s planning tribunal however, has other ideas.

Following the superlative success of Breathe Architecture’s project The Commons, a car-free, carbon-free building in Melbourne’s Brunswick, a collective of architects and designers including representatives from Six Degrees Architects and Andrew Maynard Architects, Architecture Architecture, and Wolveridge Architects among others, submitted a project of similar impetus, named The Nightingale, for approval.

The Nightingale is set to be a 5-storey apartment building of affordable costs and sustainable motives, planned adjacent to the Commons. It features a collective laundry and a shared rooftop space, for saved costs and a true embodiment of communal living. The complex also self-regulates its own temperature, and with ample public transport services at its doorstep, does not feature a car park.

Plans for the complex were approved unanimously by the Moreland City Council, but recently overturned by VCAT. The body’s senior member Russell Byard defended the rejection, saying that “no such arrangements … are as convenient as private car ownership”.

Considering it is to be built alongside a train station, and with trams, buses, bicycle paths, and a car-sharing service all in the immediate vicinity, the building’s denial has come as a shock to many. Least of all, its creators, who had contracts for all 20 of the apartments signed.

Buildings like the Commons and the Nightingale arguably cater for demand created by a generation of environmentally conscious city dwellers. It is a hard fact to debate, with the Nightingale plans receiving only three objections from the public, and an unprecedented 177 letters of support. The former also won the 2014 IDEA for Sustainability and Multi-Residential, as well as  TTT Architects International Building of the Year, the Best of the Best prize at the 2014 Sustainability Awards, and an array of others.

Those behind the building will not let VCAT’s ruling slow them, though. The group is now planning to lodge a new application for the building, so time will tell if the Nightingale will fly.

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