Isn't it funny when things just work

Isn't it funny when things just work
Mark BaljakJune 3, 2014

Rarely - very rarely - will a planning application come along that resonates on so many levels; a planning application that delivers an amazing design and a few uncomfortable truths simultaneously.

Consider the following planning application excerpts:

More recent additions reflect the de-skilling of the building industry and the increasing unaffordability of quality construction. These newer buildings are unlikely to age as well as those built prior to 1970, and will possibly be replaced as building fabrics become increasingly disposable. Alternatively the building fabric in this section of Nicholson Street will remain poor.

The need to improve the quality of higher density development in inner suburbs of Melbourne is well known and the city of Moreland has recognised and formalised this in its Higher Design Code and Structure Plans. We seek to work in chorus with these aims.

These are the words, and truths delivered by project architect and multi-disciplinary design firm Hachem. I like their candour. In fact I admire them for it.

Isn't it funny when things just work

Ever so briefly Hachem have been engaged by a private developer to conceive a high quality apartment development consisting of 17 dwellings, restaurant and retail outlet. Located at 38 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy North the design is of such a quality that I'd expect it wouldn't look out of place in St Kilda or South Yarra - high wealth areas with an almost expected lofty design standard to match.

While deriding developments such as Gateway on Nicholson (seen above) within the planning report, Hachem have designed 38 Nicholson Street as beacon of exemplary design in an area bereft of contemporary quality. With an unique, active, articulated and undulating facade the design is a step - no make that giant leap - above what the area currently has to offer.

Defined by an external polycarbonate cellular wall wrap, and ably accompanied by brickwork, glazing and a lush forecourt I can't help but love the design. But what I love even more is that Hachem have raised the bar for apartment developments within the vicinity.

We all know that developers are experts in extolling the virtues of their projects, yet 38 Nicholson Street is so far beyond the design norm it may just drag future surrounding apartment developments up a cog or two in terms of design for fear or being made to look comprehensively mediocre.

Isn't it funny when things just work

Now I realise there's a wide spectrum of views out there regarding higher density living in Melbourne; no doubt some people would turn their nose at the prospect of a five level apartment complex in this location. If (and I mean when) higher density living is to infiltrate certain areas of Melbourne, is it fanciful to expect the quality of the built form to be beyond reproach?

Hachem via 38 Nicholson Street have demonstrated a no compromise attitude toward design, thus creating a cracking apartment project that just works on every level. Put simply this is the gold standard for low-rise, inner suburban apartment design that will put many others to shame... more please!

The planning application can be viewed on Moreland City Council's website.

Unfortunately, like many online planning systems in Victoria, it's not easy to directly link to the planning application on Moreland's site - the first draft of this article had a direct link however upon testing returns an error. To view the application, go to the main search page, then select "Planning permit applications advertised" under Enquiry Type and click next, go to the second page (as at time of publishing) and then click on the hyperlink for application number MPS/2013/949.

Mark Baljak

Mark Baljak was a co-founder of He passed away on Thursday 8th of November 2018 after a battle with cancer. He was 37. Mark was a keen traveller, having visited all six permanently-inhabited continents and had a love of craft beer. One of his biggest passions was observing the change that has occurred in Melbourne over the past two decades. In that time he built an enormous library of photos, all taken by him, which tracked the progress of construction on building sites from across metropolitan Melbourne.

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