Michael Piccolo on the design virtues of Elwood House

Michael Piccolo on the design virtues of Elwood House
Elwood House Hero Shot. © Piccolo
Laurence DragomirApril 22, 2015

Melbourne developer Piccolo's latest boutique apartment project, the aptly titled Elwood House, looks to build on the previous success of their Garden House in Carlton. Located at 2 Pine Avenue on the corner with Ormond Road, the 4-storey development will feature 31 luxury apartments and ground level retail to Ormond Road. Underpinning the intended quality of the development are apartment sizes, with two bedroom dwellings beginning at approximately 100sqm in size and beyond the $1 million barrier.

The display suite is highly impressive in itself - a shame that it will eventually be demolished to make way for the building - but it gives an excellent indication of what residents can expect. Interiors feature bespoke custom joinery and one colour palette - neutral - with a consistent tile finish to living areas, kitchens and bathrooms that also extends to the outdoor balconies. Carpets will be limited to bedrooms only.

Michael Piccolo on the design virtues of Elwood House
An Elwood House typical open plan living area. Image courtesy Piccolo Developments

Company founder Michael Piccolo described it best when he said, the project was all about "bringing the band back together" with the development team that delivered Garden House; Piccolo, Woods Bagot and Hecker Guthrie conspiring once more. This came about largely as a result of timing with Nick Karalis of Woods Bagot returning from an overseas sojourn just as Piccolo had settled on the site.

The building's exterior is best described as rich and textured, employing a variety of robust materials not unlike The Garden House, such as off form weathered concrete panels and hand-made Pedersen bricks from Denmark. The selected materials will extend the life of the building’s exterior and ensure little maintenance is required on the part of the residents.

Greenery is draped over balconies for a natural softer counterpoint to the harder surfaces of the facade. This common language and aesthetic reinforces the concept of Elwood House as the sister building to Garden House, and unlike traditional roofs which are typically constructed of metal sheeting on multi-unit developments, Elwood House will have a concrete roof for improved water proofing.

The façade of Elwood House will be brick, concrete, metal and glass, without a painted surface, which will increase its longevity. The only thing you’ll need to do is clean the windows! Every apartment facing Pine Avenue and Ormond Road will have a planter terrace that will receive rainwater collected from rainwater tanks stored in the basement. A circular reticulation system will pump the water through the development and water all of the planters.

Michael Piccolo
Michael Piccolo on the design virtues of Elwood House
Composition of materials which make up the facade. Image courtesy Piccolo Developments

The project features a number of built-in initiatives that will ensure future residents are able to move with, and embrace technology as it evolves, while also affording the building a 6-star green star rating. When founder Michael Piccolo test-drove a Tesla electric car recently, he began wondering just how soon electric vehicles will be embraced by Australians.

When I drove the Tesla last year I thought, these are definitely coming to Australia. I believe that in 10 years, we will all be driving electric cars. This lead to the question, what can we do to prepare for that?

Michael Piccolo

Consequently every car park in Elwood House's basement features its own 30-amp power point, which is designed to accommodate an electric vehicle. Each socket is connected back to the apartment's power metre to ensure that individuals are billed according to their electricity use. Requiring capital outlay from the developer's perspective, the move is considered a necessary step towards future-proofing the building for residents.

Further trends being incorporated into Elwood House include:

  • Rooftop solar panels that contribute electricity to supplement residents’ gas hot water systems
  • Vast double-glazed windows to allow natural light in as well as provide thermal and acoustic insulation
  • Study desks built into cabinets, with a laptop shelf and power point with two electric sockets and a built-in USB charger (these are also installed in each of the bedrooms and the USB chargers are 2.1 amps – suitable for tablets)
  • Installation of infrastructure for optic fibre – all conduits are in place waiting for cables to be run in
  • Set up of NBN box, ready for its arrival in Elwood
Michael Piccolo on the design virtues of Elwood House
Common courtyard. Image courtesy Piccolo Developments

Michael Piccolo believes potential buyers will be drawn to the location due to its proximity to the beach while also being attracted to Elwood Village and the sense of community within the area. The quality of finishes and size of apartments is targeted largely towards the owner-occupier market. Asked of the potential for another 'House' project, Michael replied only if both the site and timing are right.

Elwood House is scheduled for construction commencement during July 2015 with completion expected by the end of 2016.

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.

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