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Kerstin Thompson’s new take on the St Kilda mansion block

26 May 2023 By architectureau

Kerstin Thompson’s new take on the St Kilda mansion block

Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA) has unveiled designs for an apartment and townhouse development in St Kilda, Melbourne that offers a "new take on the mansion block."

Together with landscape architect Myles Baldwin Design, the architecture firm has developed a design that maintains a sense of the existing scale of the neighbourhood while offering a greater diversity of housing options. The project at 97 Alma Road will include 21 townhouses and 41 apartments, just across the road from Alma Park.

KTA director and 2023 Gold Medal winner Kerstin Thompson said the project paid tribute to St Kilda's architectural heritage.

"97 Alma Road offers a graceful return to treasured memories, forging a connection with a valued part of Melbourne's urban history while offering a new approach to multiple housing," Thompson said.

The building is characterized by unique details and materials, including the expressive use of stucco, metalwork, textured glass, coloured tiles and ornamental sun screens. Each apartment has its own distinguishing architectural element: a bay window, an arch, a sunroom, an oddly shaped window, or a Juliet balcony.

"We really considered what it means to arrive home, celebrating the 'homecoming' with civic-scaled entries to the apartment building and activating differentiated laneways between the townhouses," said Thompson.

Toby Pond, principal at Kerstin Thompson Architects, said the project represented a unique response to infill development on a brownfield site, providing a variety of housing options. He noted that the design embraces the landscape, with the block divided by landscape pockets, providing garden areas, natural light and ventilation to all apartments.

Outdoor shared spaces include linear gardens with native planting, a garden spine to the east, a barbecue area, an apartment rooftop terrace that supports communal food production, and a courtyard that protects significant existing trees.

The building will incorporate passive design principles to maximize natural light and ventilation and reduce the need for airconditioning - there are no south-facing apartments. It will also feature solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems and high-efficiency appliances.

The project is being developed by Neometro. The developer's design director, James Tutton, said the project was all about creating a "healthy building."

"Entries are welcoming, stairs and corridors are imagined as a social and joyful path to everyone's front door - open-air, light-filled with glimpses to garden, encouraging healthy and incidental engagement with the neighbours," Tutton said.

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