Not your run of the Mill apartment: The Millswyn

Not your run of the Mill apartment: The Millswyn
Laurence DragomirJuly 30, 2016

Located on the corner of Millswyn Street and Toorak Road West, The Millswyn offers 10 grandly proportioned residences from $3.9 million to $13+ million in the Domain precinct, bounded by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Fawkner Park.

The development presents a rare opportunity to acquire large contemporary private residences in one of South Yarra’s most prestigious precincts just five minutes’ walk from the 'Tan' running track and Domain village; a minute to Fawkner Park; three kilometres from Collins Street and a kilometre from the centre of South Yarra.

The Millswyn has been designed by one of Australia's leading architects, Rob Mills who has employed historic architectural principles, most notably the ‘Golden Mean Ratio’ to give The Millswyn harmonious proportions with a sense of monumentality informed by the renaissance architecture and the architecture of Le Corbusier.

Not your run of the Mill apartment: The Millswyn
Architect Rob Mills

Golden mean is the ratio that is the guiding geometric principle of the Parthenon, renaissance Architecture and the modernist architecture of Le Corbusier. The Millswyn embodies the Golden Mean geometry particularly the first floor facade where each window are proportioned by the Golden Mean and place side by side to create the defining rhythm of the facade. In contrast the ground floor is constructed of sheets of glass thus allowing the rhythm and simplicity of the first floor facade to stand-alone. Finally the third level is setback once again to create space for the first floor façade.

We aspired to create a monumental building that drew inspiration from Barry Patton (of Yuncken Freeman)'s Treasury Place as well as the grille of a Rolls Royce - both powerful images - which result in a confident design.

Rob Mills, Architect

Speaking to, Mills described the practice's role was to "capture the imagination of the client."

The building despite being larger than the homes Mills' practice typically designs is still based on the same principles as it is in effect 10 residences within a single skin. The target demographic is also largely the same: a downsizer market made up largely of baby boomers looking for an "aspirational purchase" and a simpler life that allows them to retain their seaside or country side holiday properties.

Input was sought from agents who worked closely with the project team to finalise the design with Mills in particular remarking that it "was beneficial to seek other opinions and external input."

Formerly, The Albany Hotel site - a 3-storey 1960s motel - The Millswyn will be built in the grounds of Millswyn Court. The development will retain and incorporate the historic Victorian Italianate mansion built in 1886 for one of South Yarra’s original settlers, James Gatehouse.

The motel has since been demolished to allow for construction to commence on site. According to Mills the new and the old were initially separated but will now sit comfortably together. The mansion will go to the market in approximately two months.

The design shares a lot of elements and characteristics evident from Renaissance architecture including the articulation of the three storeys. Glass has been purposely used to float the building above the ground, so your eye is taken to the mid level of the building.

You get an uninterrupted view of the façade as the guiding geometry of the project is based on the Golden Mean. The exterior of the building is clad in Italian limestone providing colour and durability and reinforcing the connection to classical architecture.

Joining Mills on the project is garden design guru to the rich and prominent: landscape architect Paul Bangay. Mills and Bangay took a genuinely collaborative approach to the project.

Often spending three hours a week together in isolation in Mills' studio it was critical to the design that the approach to nature and the architecture was one of harmony, with the landscape elements complimenting and adding to the experience of the architecture both externally and internally.

Not your run of the Mill apartment: The Millswyn
Interior render showing green outlook. Image courtesy of Marshall White

It was important to both Mills and Bangay that residents were "in touch with nature and were provided with a green outlook whether it was views to the trees along the street or planters to the upper levels, it completely changes the environment of the residences".

By minimising the amount of paving and maximising the landscape the amount of glare within the residences is significantly reduced.

The residences offer purchasers the full amenity of a high-end Rob Mills designed home: three bedrooms, luxurious main bedroom suite with a spacious walk-in wardrobe and en suite, large entertainment kitchens with island benches, en suite bathrooms, guest powder rooms, separate laundries, gracious arrival foyers, landscaped terraces or courtyards and secure parking for two to four cars in private garages. The design of the residences allows rooms to be used for many purposes. "The key is understanding that furniture has equal value in what you're creating," says Mills.

Some layouts include a scullery area or full butler’s pantry and/or a separate study /second living area. The extra high ceilings are 3 to 3.24m, accentuated by full-height windows and doors and inbuilt pelmets. Extensive internal floorplans range from 207 to 404sqm and the eight large ground and first level residences have private outdoor living areas of 24 to 96sqm and are afforded filtered tree line views to the east.

On the upper level the two penthouses have rooftop terraces of 145 and 207sqm accessed via sculptural spiral staircases, another signature of Rob Mills work, with outdoor kitchen and entertainment space.

The arrival experience is consistent through from ground floor arrival through to the private lift. The fit-out of these spaces matches that of the apartments. Residents and guests alike entering the penthouses are greeted on arrival with sunlight soaked spaces and views of gardens beyond.

Finishes are in keeping with the high-end nature of the penthouse with luxury Italian marble wrapping around island benches, kitchen benchtops and splashbacks with bathroom walls, floors and vanities.

French grey American oak floorboards flow through living areas with pure wool carpets to bedrooms. Two pack joinery features bronzed accents and the Miele kitchen appliances include two ovens, induction cooktop and integrated refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher with a Qasair rangehood. Penthouses also have direct access to their 4 car garage via private lifts which service only those residences. One of the penthouses has already been sold.

Prospective purchasers can view the project by appointment at Marshall White; Level 1, 1111 High Street, Armadale. The project is under development by the Pask Group with completion anticipated in January 2018.

For Mills The Millswyn presents the next stage of evolution in the practice's work with further projects on the drawing board in Melbourne with Sydney's waterfront next on the horizon.

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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