The finesse of timber revisited

During 2013 Urban Melbourne highlighted the worth of timber as an exterior architectural feature, with the material becoming increasingly popular due to its many positive features.

Architects employ timber for many reasons - some for the warmth it brings to a space, others to provide a more 'natural' finish - a counter balance to manufactured glass and steel. This softer, natural finish is becoming more prevalent throughout metropolitan Melbourne as an increasing number of architects incorporate timber into their designs, some going so far as to clad entire building exteriors.

Above all else timber is visually stimulating and provides a welcome change to a typical Melbourne urban setting.

Laurence Dragomir, "Wooden you know it - architecture and timber", October 4 2013
56 Princes Street, Kew. Image courtesy Splinter Society

Two projects which drew particular attention at the time were the new Marysville Police Station and the purely residential 56 Princes Street, Kew. The latter, perhaps appropriately designed by Splinter Society, is an apartment block with a near complete timber exterior which has over time changed its appearance due to the weathering of its exterior.

The topic of timber exteriors has been raised once more with dKO Architecture and developer Milieu Property advancing plans for a new townhouse development predominantly clad in timber. Replacing a Victorian weatherboard house on the corner of George and Andrew streets within Windsor, the project features strong horizontal timber lines with vertical timber cladding also providing contrast.

A new perspective on George and Andrew. Image courtesy Milieu

As Milieu Property's first foray into a project south of the Yarra, the intention between developer and architect was to create a project that found balance between function and finish, while positively contributing to its surrounds. Milieu Property Director Michael McCormack described the building as "positively contributing to the neighbourhood by incorporating intelligent design features that will continue to benefit their owners throughout the property’s lifetime."

I'd suggest anyone would be hard pressed to say that of a polystyrene walling clad or precast finish.

Elsewhere, the latest apartment project to feature timber is Jackson Clement Burrowes' 179 Gladstone Street, seen below, with its frontage carrying a natural timber finish. As projects employing timber exterior features continue to increase, so too will diversity and richness of Melbourne's architecture - and there's nothing wrong with that.

179 Gladstone Street, South Melbourne with exterior timber highlights. Image courtesy JCB

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