Cirqua Apartments is a new multi-residential development in the Melbourne suburb of East Ivanhoe. Located close to the nearby shopping village, the development stands on what were originally two suburban blocks. The sloping site is now home to 43 apartments, ranging in size from one to three bedrooms.
As BKK Architects’ George Huon explained, the area features a lot of Inter war era architecture, with a mix of Californian Bungalow, Centenary and Art Deco influenced styles with brick and articulated steel work features.
“There are a lot of relatively large houses in a very leafy, garden suburban context,” said George. “Our approach was to ask – how do you recreate that in a multi-residential development with 43 apartments and really get that personalisation and robustness in the materiality of the building?
“Attention to detail was also key. Rather than a uniform bland presentation, we wanted something that actively engaged with the street. And we wanted a degree of playfulness in some of the characteristics we had identified in the area.”
Articulation of Cirqua’s façade is a perfect example. It provides a fresh, contemporary reference to a popular local style, and also reduces the appearance of the complex’s overall mass. It helps create the impression that each apartment is a single residence.
Generally on sites of this size, because of the tendency to try to maximimise the size of developments, there’s not much flexibility when designing gardens. As a result, a lot of residential buildings end up with little more than perimeter planting.
“Articulation gave us the freedom to do more than that. It gave us an opportunity to get more planting and garden areas that are deeper into the building,” said George.
Cirqua Apartments incorporates LYSAGHT LONGLINE® cladding on many of its upper level apartments. “This is unlike the typical situation where there’s a product on the roof and you only see it from far away, on the ground. The profile metal cladding was going to be quite visible so we wanted to achieve a sharp, fine, detailed look for those areas where you experience it up close,” said George.
“Typically we used it as a feature along expressed fascias over balcony areas. We chose LONGLINE® cladding because we were really conscious that people in some of the more premium upper level apartments have generous deck areas.”
As George explained, he has often used the LYSAGHT® range of products in the past and was well aware of their quality.
“Typically architects like materials like zinc with a fairly tactile quality that ages over time. The standing seam profile of the LONGLINE® cladding was really appealing. In this context, it’s a little bit more robust and cost effective than using zinc,” said George.
“Builders like it too. It’s simple and the detailing is well-known and less specialised than something like zinc cladding which is quite labour intensive.”
Apart from the sharpness of the profile, the cladding’s robustness was also important. “We really wanted it to have a sense of permanence,” said George. “The owners and the builders can be confident it will look good 10, 15, or 20 years from now.”
A fresh addition to the area’s architectural heritage in an age of urban consolidation, Cirqua Apartments is set for a long life as part of the East Ivanhoe streetscape.