What Australian-born architect Peter Wilson achieved at Suzuki House was a spatially innovative home across four levels. One that occupies a city corner plot in a way that exudes wit, intelligence and a deeply thoughtful grasp of architectural design behaviours. A built environment that adapts to and manipulates those behaviours to realise a diverse and holistic best-fit solution in contextual accord.
Mirka Lane is a 4 townhome development located within the gritty folds of St Kilda. At the time of its development, the mid-1990’s, St Kilda had not yet risen above its murky, underbelly qualities. By day, it squinted in the glare of natural light with its industrial buildings and hodgepodge of shopfronts metaphorically holding a hand up to the suns assault. By night the area glittered like cheap costume jewellery. The domain of prostitutes and the industrious simpering and scattered scrape from the complex web of humanity that turn the cogs and light the fires that keep the wheels of a big city rotating. The big city – Melbourne – cast its shadow upon St Kilda. It’s immediacy and overt connection imbuing a sense of anticipation upon its nearby pocket which was ripe for a new kind of domestic and commercial resident in the 90’s.
The 14m x 9m site envelope on which Mirka Lane was constructed has a long list of comparable conditions with Suzuki House. Both are unquestionably tight footprints within an unquestionably dense urban streetscape. Both are surrounded by a highly diverse built environment and both have been redeveloped for residential purposes. Mirka Lane takes from the robust democratic essence of its surroundings, emerging as a form concrete and glazed addition to Melbourne’s laneway culture and addressing a growing need for work/live spaces. The unapologetic material language of the building perfectly transfers across both contexts and is one that would come to define Neometro’s brand identity as developer that realises projects that are both enduring and durable while wholly in touch with the forces driving the cultural landscape. A no-nonsense development approach that amplifies the cityscape nearby but yields to a more domestic atmosphere and puts the needs of the client first.
Japan’s vertical living model and St Kilda’s edgy and accepting cosmopolitan air are brought into a negotiation at Mirka Lane that, in the heady atmosphere of 90’s Melbourne, found a perfect synchronicity. One that spatially maximises a small site to ultimately carve our 4 residential spaces of generous interiors and a wealth of light without foregoing a striking design aptitude alongside construction innovation.