by Neometro

From The Archives: 231 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Architecture, High Density Homes - by Open Journal
  • 231 Smith Street by Derek Swalwell

26th November, 2020.

In 2013, Melbourne’s medium and high density housing landscape was in the throes of cause and effect momentum. As the country collectively emerged from a property market that had remained relatively stable for a prolonged period of time, a spike in the value of homes, coupled with an ever growing urban population, meant apartments were becoming leaner and meaner in both size and amenity as a consequence of simple demand. And then there was 231 Smith Street, Fitzroy. A lofty, spacious offering of quality apartments from Neometro located in the heart of the inner north.

231 Smith Street, Fitzroy was designed in collaboration with Grant Amon Architects and MA Architects. Completed in 2013, the project re-imaged the next evolution of Fitzroy’s ever-shifting vernacular with apartments that epitomised intuitive neighbourhood integration and future-focused intents that have since become de rigour. 

231 Smith Street, Fitzroy by Derek Swalwell

In a poetic dichotomy of built form, 231 Smith Street presents as a robust, metal clad facade solidly anchored to the iconic heritage beauty of Panama House. With retail and commercial tenants below and apartments above, the lifestyle considerations of this type of residence was and still remains extremely covetable. 

While the aesthetic language differs between the original and new elements of the building, the upper facade is a lesson in sensitive and thoughtful design. A curved roofline reflects the arcs on existing heritage windows while a newly designed parapet connects the two through clean lines carried above and white materiality carried through from below.

231 Smith Street, Fitzroy by Derek Swalwell

Inside, the apartments shrugged off crowd mentality among developers at the time which lent towards building more, faster. Instead, the private spaces within are imbued with relevance, light and starkly obvious attention to the functionality and ease of living within these spaces. Rooms are spatially generous and full of considerations for the status quo. Built in study nooks appeared in place of dedicated rooms. Bathrooms double as laundries. Living spaces are open and geared towards entertaining yet harness the possibility for privacy and spatial intimacy through architectural details like sliders, joinery and integrated amenity. 

231 Smith Street, Fitzroy by Derek Swalwell

As we look back upon the planning of 231 Smith Street, in a year of immense disruption and fundamental evolutions of domestic expectations, this is a project that is only now coming into maturation. Seven years ago it addressed ambitious ideals cloaked in aesthetic beauty, today these are precedents. 

Images | Derek Swalwell

Words | Tiffany Jade


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