The Next Chapter: Collection XI

The Next Chapter: Collection XI
Laurence DragomirAugust 29, 2015

Following on from The Bowery in Richmond and Elland Avenue in Box Hill, comes the latest release from The Chapter Group: Collection XI, a series of eleven luxury townhouses located on a 2,500sqm site in Mowbray Street, Hawthorn East.

The Chapter Group has developed a reputation for their cohesion of expertise across key property development disciplines, from architecture to finance, with their work founded on core principles of design excellence, outstanding quality and liveability.

The Next Chapter: Collection XI
The Bowery and Elland Avenue. Images courtesy The Chapter Group.

The Chapter Group was founded by directors Dean Lefkos who worked previously at Goldman Sachs and David Lee Principal of architecture firm K2LD, their relationship began initially in the manner of client and architect on Dean's own private home before a mutual appreciation for quality and design and a desire to implement their collective knowledge and expertise to property development: providing their purchasers with a quality product that reflects value for money.

David Lee says he modeled Collection XI on a tight "European street", inspired by his trips to Assisi in Italy: narrow, tactile street networks full of character and heritage typical of European cities. Off this 'street' sit the entrances to each townhouse with residents also able to catch their own dedicated lift directly from the basement garage to their living room thus creating a secluded enclave of eight private homes behind the three townhouses along the street frontage.

"People want a private lifestyle and we identified a gap in the market for this type of product" says David. The front three townhouses are 170-180sqm in size with the rear eight townhouses 250sqm with quality fixtures, fittings and appliances by the likes of Dada, Roger Sellers, Molteni&C, Hub and Gaggenau, "combining the best elements of modern living".

The Next Chapter: Collection XI
Interior of Collection XI townhouse. Image courtesy The Chapter Group.

The project was lodged just before the changes in residential zones came into effect meaning that The Chapter Group were to have tried obtain a planning permit after their implementation they would now be limited to a maximum of four dwellings under the current requirements. As such Dean and David believe that it's highly unlikely that another opportunity to develop or buy such houses would present itself.

Working with Jack Merlo who was engaged for the landscape design aspect of the project in addition to the arbour, The Chapter Group have conceived a pedestrianised network the result of moving cars to the basement garage and folding the ground plain to provide a ground level that is sole domain of the pedestrian/resident, creating a journey and experience of walking through a network of streets.

The Next Chapter: Collection XI
European-styled street network. Image courtesy The Chapter Group.

A point of contention according to David and Dean was the pitched gabled roofs of the three front townhouses and what council considered to be a "chalet aesthetic" out of character with the surrounding houses within the neighbourhood. It could be argued that employing gabled roofs results in a diverse streetscape of varied roof forms distinguishing the development as a high quality, well articulated architectural intervention within the street. Additionally the roof forms can also be understood as an inflection and juxtaposition to the butterfly roofs of the rear eight townhouses creating a dialogue between the two sets of dwellings.

Together the contrasting roofs act to break down the massing and forms of the dwellings a very deliberate strategy. The inclusion of butterfly roofs is somewhat of a rarity in Australian developments with a strong disposition away from them due to their tendency to leak. This has been addressed within Collection XI by employing a far more robust more closely aligned to the thick concrete butterfly roofs that David Lee worked on in Singapore.

In terms of materiality the townhouses employ a combination of off-form ribbed profile concrete walls and smooth concrete surfaces complimented by warm timbers employed both in vertical and horizontal applications creating a contrasting composition of elements and a departure away from the typical townhouse typology associated with the suburbs.

The Next Chapter: Collection XI
Collection XI rear dwellings, thirteen in total. Image courtesy The Chapter Group.

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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