No sinner - SJB's latest apartment project brings a craftman's touch to St Kilda

Laurence DragomirApril 15, 20190 min read

Located in close proximity to entertainment, food and retail precincts of Acland, Fitzroy and Chapel Streets, SAINT introduces a unique hybrid typology to St Kilda’s apartment market.

Designed by SJB the five-storey complex comprises 51 apartments and four townhouses, with SAINT's defining feature its striking brick exterior, which adds a tactile response to the streetscape.

In conceiving the building's architectural and urban response, the design team adopted cues from the area’s signature brick walk-up flats, using masonry and steel to provide a contemporary interpretation of the neighbourhood’s architectural vernacular.

No sinner - SJB's latest apartment project brings a craftman's touch to St Kilda
SAINT's highly tactile urban response. Image: Aaron Puls

“SAINT is a medium-sized, modest residential project and the hand-laid brick throughout directly connects materiality, craftsmanship and a domestic scale of construction.

The project aims to create a strong residential community. We encouraged walkability and social interaction by allowing for extensive, light-filled corridors, walkways and gardens.

Cliff makes these rectilinear geometric forms that are strong and planar with organic-looking erosions in them. We worked closely with him on how they could be integrated to almost become part of the structural components of the building.

The beauty of this artwork is that it gives something back to the streetscape, while also engaging with the development’s residents.

We wanted to create a journey punctuated with landscaped moments. From the street front to the rear of the development where the red-brick townhouses are, you journey past and through light-filled and green garden environments that break the walk.

SAINT is about moments – providing visual cues that are strong, simple and highly crafted. You journey from outside to in and the materiality comes with you. It was about taking little moments and marrying the interiors and the architecture.” 

- Tristan Wong, SJB director of architecture

The buildings are arranged around private landscaped areas, including an internal courtyard, gardens to the rear of the townhouses and a rooftop garden on level three. According to the architects, the courtyard incision performs multiple functions – it provides light and ventilation to residences, common spaces and a ground level walkway, and a micro-ecosystem.

Defining the project’s Carlisle Street elevation, two cantilevered forms clad in grey brick levitate over a sculptural colonnade created by Melbourne artist Cliff Burtt. Called Section, Burtt’s work is a series of ‘eroded’ Corten steel columns that lead into the building itself, seemingly supporting it.

SJB were determined to fully integrate the work of a local artist into the development, in a way that didn’t feel like simply a token gesture, and which would contribute to St Kilda’s reputation as a vibrant artistic community.

No sinner - SJB's latest apartment project brings a craftman's touch to St Kilda
The material paeltte draws on surrounding vernacular. Image: Aaron Puls

Internally, the apartments and townhouses showcases two unique monochromatic and natural themes defined by the materiality of the exterior and Burtt’s sculpture. A warm bronze palette is inspired by Cliff’s Corten steel while a darker coloured palette speaks to the exteriors’ masonry and black steel. The interiors include timber flooring, matching veneer treatments with porcelain benchtops, vanities and tiling.

The architects sought to create a good example of hybrid multi-residential living, proving that art and architecture, craftsmanship and sustainability, can be seamlessly integrated to create a healthy, happy community. It's fair to say they have succeeded.

Lead image: Aaron Puls

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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