by Neometro

Tokyo scale site on a back lane in St Kilda

Architecture - by Open Journal

From the archive: Mirka Lane by Neometro, 2000

When Neometro originally redeveloped the Luxe site, in Inkerman Street St Kilda, as mixed use residential, offices, restaurant and bar, the general consensus was that the area was too raw to be attractive for potential occupants and restaurant patrons, and the location next to the Council tip did not improve matters. However by comparison, it was a much more salubrious address than Mirka Lane, a narrow passageway lined with rubbish bins leading to the Luxe carpark and the service entrance to the restaurant. An opportunity was identified to provide an infill structure which would help improve and revitalise the existing environment.

This project was constructed on a tiny, Tokyo scale site (14m x 9m) – reclaimed airspace above an existing 5 space carpark behind an autorepair workshop. Located on the South side of the 19 metre high rear facade of Luxe, across a 3.7 metre wide laneway, the challenge was to create light filled containers for mixed use office and residential use.  The building also needed to address the corner where Mirka Lane makes a right angle turn. The new 5 storey structure has ground floor entry and carpark, two double height levels with four studios/residences, and a rooftop garden.

Constructed in blockwork and off-form concrete, the building has a robust simplicity in keeping with it’s industrial location.  The tilted column, angled to allow vehicle access below, props the corner and supports the hanger which holds the cantilevered first floor slab. The ordering grid for the interior is based on a 6metre x 9metre floorplate, with 6metre x 6metre mezzanine over.

Given the laneway location one possible design scenario might have been to create a solid, introspective box.  However, an alternative strategy of infill glazed facades was adopted, acting in effect like wide angle lenses to draw as much natural light as possible into the interior of each unit.  This lightweight, transparent element also acts as a foil to the heavy masonry walls of the adjoining warehouses, alleviating visual bulk in the narrow void between the buildings and improving security in the laneway through surveillance. The occupants will have the choice of determining how much privacy they require, by adding blinds or awnings to suit.  The only inbuilt screening is the copper clad wall protecting the first floor corner unit, which has the most exposed position.

Neometro will use this project as a prototype for future reclaimed land developments.

2 Mirka Lane was up for resale in 2015.


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