Spotlight on sustainable: The General, Melbourne

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Spotlight on sustainable: The General, Melbourne
Spotlight on sustainable: The General, Melbourne

Australia is setting a world precedent with ground-breaking sustainable building designs coming to fruition year after year. Today we’re taking a look at Australia’s first apartment complex to integrate solar balustrades into its design – taking out an impressive 7.5-star NatHERS energy rating.

If you've explored Northcote's High Street recently, then you may be familiar with the illustrious building, The General, which occupies the corner north-facing section at High and Bent streets.

Spotlight on sustainable: The General, Melbourne
The General exterior view from Bent Street. Credit: Peter Clarke

Designed by award-winning C.Kairouz Architects, The General's leading sustainability credentials were a definitive goal from the outset – with the photovoltaic glass panels being one of many design features to be included in the final design.   

“Although it took a leap of faith to adopt untried initiatives, the architecture of The General is a resounding success both aesthetically and practically, ensuring the sustainable viability for many years to come.”

Cedar Group Developments

The glass panels were provided by Environmental Technology Solutions (ETS) and cover an area of 130 square metres, meaning the building is able to generate 2,075 kWh per year and eliminates the release of 1.95 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

“Pioneering the photovoltaic glass product encourages future development and refinement of the product to make it more commercial and increase the public awareness and philosophy for it to be adopted by others in the future. We feel that industry recognition and support of our initiative is important in spreading the message.”

Chahid Kairouz, C.Kairouz Architects

Other sustainability measures include adding 25,000-litre rainwater tank capacity which is used to flush 50 toilets and 137 bicycle parks for resident use.

The General features a modern, convex glass feature piece which adorns two street-facing facades. The glass can be illuminated at night, and one side even features a striking pattern which depicts a Victorian general on a horse – which pays homage to architect Kairouz’ father, who was affectionately nicknamed ‘The General’ and owned the site’s former butcher’s shop.

“It was extremely important to reflect my father’s values in the design of the general; not only for sentimental value but to stand the test of time in its design and its use of cutting-edge sustainable technology on the facade; a combination makes the building and the apartments be relevant for longer." 

Chahid Kairouz, C.Kairouz Architects

Spotlight on sustainable: The General, Melbourne
Glass facade featuring a Victorian general on a horse. Credit: Peter Clarke

The design also features three hollowed-out voids which aim to distribute natural light and encourage airflow throughout the apartments and shared spaces.

READ MORE: 5 of Melbourne’s environmentally conscious new-development highlights


  • Approximately 2087 square metres of land across 6 titles
  • 87 apartments across eight storeys
  • Three underground basement levels
  • Communal gym
  • Views to the CBD
  • 137 bicycle parks
  • 25,000-litre rainwater tank
  • 130 square metres of solar balustrades
Spotlight on sustainable: The General, Melbourne
The General's on-site gym. Credit: Peter Clarke
Spotlight on sustainable: The General, Melbourne
Apartment balcony. Credit: Valeo Construction
Spotlight on sustainable: The General, Melbourne
One of The General's apartment kitchens. Credit: Valeo Construction
Spotlight on sustainable: The General, Melbourne
Interior fireplace and storage. Credit: Valeo Construction

Lead image: The General, High Street facade. Credit: Peter Clarke.

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