5th February, 2020.
91 Wellington Street‘s aspect is a celebration of the quintessential Melbourne lifestyle. Bookended by Chapel Street’s retail precinct, and the dynamism of St Kilda’s night and beach life, this mixed-use development is testamont to future-focused development that harnesses elevated liveability that remains relevant well over a decade after its completion.
NEOMETRO has long been linked with two things; mixed use developments inextricably tied to the zeitgeist, and a tendency towards brutalist design and its unity within the urban context. 91 Wellington Street, completed in 2006, is a project designed by Neometro Architects (now MA Architects), and developed by Neometro Projects.
The mixed use, 4 storey building has 10 live-work studios – 4 single level units (aligned to office use) on the first floor, and 6 two storey residential apartments above. The site is located in a Business 2 Zone, with a residential neighbourhood on the opposite side of the street.
On the ground floor a compact 28 m2 café (originally ‘Cross’ and now The Bagel House – also designed by Neometro and lined with plywood offcuts from the studio floors above) provides an active interface that has helped foster a sense of community between the building and the local neighbourhood. Working within the constraints of a very tight space and budget, the café ‘borrows’ space from the building lobby, the narrow gardens on either side, and the nature strip out front, so that the interior spills out of its restrictive envelope and becomes a friendly and inclusive addition to the street.
A flight of stairs (designed to allow a disabled stair lifter to be retrofitted if required) leads from street level to a 3m wide internal ‘laneway’ which cuts through the centre of the building. This open slot accommodates the external stair accessing the upper level units, provides a small communal garden, and creates a breezeway that assists with passive ventilation for all the units. An open timber screen above the entry – incorporating artwork by sculptor Todd Butterworth, draws in cooling southerly breezes and directs them into the central breezeway.
The building is constructed of robust, low maintenance materials including precast concrete panels with a rebated ‘cross’ pattern created from a mould made of more plywood cutoffs, and balustrades made from hollow core concrete blocks laid sideways to form budget ‘breezeblocks’. These aesthetic and sustainably consious consideration ensure the buildign retains its relevance over a decade later and emains true to Neometro’s practise to create buildings that wear in as opposed to wearing out.
Words and images supplied by NEOMETRO.