Napier Street for Milieu: Freadman White

Napier Street for Milieu | Freadman White | Photographer: Gavin Green

Freadman White’s simultaneous development of Napier Street and Whitlam Place harnessed unique efficiencies and resulted in a highly efficient model for project delivery.

Located directly adjacent to their Whitlam Place apartments, Freadman White’s more recent Napier Street apartments are a refined addition to Fitzroy’s multi-residential scene. Armed with site-specific knowledge, established relationships with planners at council and coordinated consultants across both projects, Freadman White’s delivery of Napier Street was both highly efficient and well informed.

During the town planning phase of Whitlam Place, Freadman White developed a deep understanding of the community’s established objectives for future development. Through existing knowledge of direct heritage context, amenities of the area, and the significance of surrounding trees and local landmarks, the Napier Street project team were uniquely equipped with the hindsight to overcome challenges previously faced at a town planning authority level.

Another unique opportunity that arises from developing two projects side-by-side was Freadman White’s ability to navigate agreements between clients. Acting as a broker between discussions, opportunities to capitalise on certain aspects of both the design and construction phases were harnessed, and ultimately, both properties benefited from mutual consent.

With the project receiving a planning permit under a previous landowner, it was when Milieu purchased the site that a collaborative relationship was born, and a series of alterations took place. Freadman White explain that while accommodating “the preferred changes, mainly to the spatial planning, maintaining the integrity of the architectural design intent” always remained important. There was “a shared purpose by client and architect” to engrain a level of flexibility in the development process of Napier Street, ensuring variety in the dwelling types and a sense of community in the common areas. Through the sales and marketing phase, Milieu “worked closely with their purchasers to customise spatial planning and interior design details”, while ensuring the overarching design language remained. Moves such as combining two apartments into a larger one considered the established architectural envelope of the building, as well as the interior design and its connection to adjoining common spaces.

Napier Street for Milieu | Freadman White | Photographer: Gavin Green

Several consultants were engaged across both projects, allowing for unique efficiencies to be integrated into the design of Napier Street from its very early stages. The use of the same structural engineer allowed for prior knowledge of Whitlam Place’s structural design to be carried over to Napier Street; the construction team were informed of existing footings and structural systems across the duration of the build. During Whitlam Place’s construction, its shared party wall with Napier Street was constructed with foresight in mind, allowing for a boundary condition that saves space on both sides.

Napier Street references many details from both Whitlam Place and the Town Hall, as well as the architects’ reference to Heide II. Collaborative relationships were built with trades, ensuring a high level of detail such as the brickwork, which Freadman White refer to as “an intimate working relationship” with the bricklayer. Forming a large extent of Napier Street’s external skin and its common areas, variations in the creamy white brick walls were achieved by saw cutting the faces of standard bricks to expose it’s coppery-brown aggregate. The process saw an ongoing collaboration in its pre-installation, having architects involved in the set-out and nominating three various laying patterns across the building.

The common spaces are laced with “elevated detail moments” through precise timber and steelwork. With brass a recurring accent from the entry facade through to the joinery details, it is evident that there is a high level of co-ordination across metalworkers, suppliers, joiners and the architects. From the project’s inception, Freadman White explain how they ensured they “met each of the personnel of the principal contractors”, forming strong bonds that play into an inclusive “workable for all” style of working.

Napier Street stands as a well-honed example of considered multi-residential development. Leaning into known council objectives, crafting the design through unique negotiations, and maintaining strong collaborative bonds with all contractors involved resulted in Freadman White’s robust method of delivering Napier Street – a building whose side-by-side consideration with Whitlam Place is not blaringly obvious, but rather, is spoken loudly through its built form.

Nikita Bhopti is a registered architecture. A lead curator of New Architects Melbourne, Nikita is also engaged with multiple mentoring platforms as both a mentor and mentee. She is a regular contributor to Architect Victoria and The Design Writer.

Published online:
10 May 2022

Source:
Architect Victoria
Lost for Words
May / Jun
2021

More from Architect Victoria

Balfe Park Lane: Kerstin Thompson Architects

Considered across the scales of the neighbourhood, building and apartment, Kerstin Thompson Architects’ recently completed Balfe Park Lane is a demonstration of medium-density housing that is contextual, amenable and lasting. The project lies on a rapidly densifying section of Nicholson Street, where the facades of new developments jostle for attention above nondescript ground floors.

Read more

Re-valuing

Through process and approaches that engage with multiple notions of heritage including problematic ones of environmental and cultural destruction, architecture can participate in the widening of a heritage discourse.

Read more

Maggie Edmond: Edmond & Corrigan

Edmond & Corrigan has employed an incomparable number of young architects who have gone on to have prolific careers with their own practices or as sole practitioners. Daniel Moore asked practice director Maggie Edmond some questions.

Read more

A crucible for new housing typologies

Faded photos of public housing projects from the early 1980s line the corridor walls of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, marking the time since the medium density infill housing program, led by John Devenish at the Ministry of Housing. The program became a crucible for new housing typologies as it pursued a policy of diversification through infill, opening up the opportunity to commission emerging practices.

Read more

Amelia Borg, Kushagra Jhurani and Peter Elliott: How to get a job

Early career professionals are often guided by a practice’s development guidelines. Many help by pairing graduates with an experienced graduate, registered architect, or even an architect who has achieved the highest levels of success in our industry. It becomes apparent that the practice of architecture is very different to studying architecture.

Read more

Lovell Burton: Springhill House and Barwon Heads House

Lovell Burton grew organically from a conversation over many years. We share a common endeavour to shape the built environment with a social, environmental and fiscal approach.

Read more

Emerging Architect Prize: Alexander & Sheridan Architecture

In 2021, Jacqui Alexander and Ben Sheridan were the Victorian recipients of the Emerging Architect Prize. With a diverse CV of research, publications, exhibitions, and built work, Daniel Moore spoke with Jacqui about her achievements in the time that she has been emerging in the architecture profession.

Read more

Calk House: Mani Architecture

Putting strong relationships with their clients at the forefront, and remaining bonded with their projects after completion, the Mani Architecture team are “reminded on how we have changed our clients’ lives for the best”.

Read more

Ozanam House: MGS Architects

Joshua Darvill, coordination, engagement and participation manager at Ozanam House provides a snapshot of the services provided, long-term sustainable outcomes and reassessing the needs of the community.

Read more

Architectural photography

A photo essay of architectural photography. Daniel Moore asked established architectural photographers about their first memorable project, finding their way into the profession and/or working with early career architects.

Read more

Investment in affordable housing quality: Why the industry should support it

Recently, we have seen many news stories pointing to the bounce back and now surge in house prices in our capital cities. With this, a host of public servants, politicians, residential property investors, and homeowners sit back content, another KPI met, clearly all is well in the garden. The low interest rates, the decades-long incentives rewarding this investment are working. But are they? Are we getting the housing infrastructure we need, in the locations and in the form and tenure required to build the Australia we need economically and socially?

Read more

Building a folio

We fell into our practice with little planning, much optimism and a dose of imposter syndrome. Our first project was to blame; a friend was starting a cafe and bar in a beautiful art-deco building on Carlisle Street and we were doing the fit-out. With the promise of a prominent built project on the horizon, we felt sure that we were on our way (spoiler: we were pretty wrong).

Read more

Homelessness and social housing

Arron Wood, former Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne, on how architecture and good urban design can have a positive impact on the supply of social and affordable housing.

Read more

Richmond House: Therefore

Director Alex Lake shares how Therefore has spring boarded into residential architecture from a prior base of commercial work – “an atypical direction given most small practices begin with residential work”. 

Read more

NGV Triennial Outdoor Pavilions: BoardGrove Architects

For the National Gallery of Victoria’s 2020 Triennial outdoor program, BoardGrove Architects designed a collection of transient pavilions situated in the gallery’s Grollo Equiset Garden. Drawing on their diverse experience, BoardGrove designed a novel response that skillfully responded to the project brief’s size and budget.

Read more

Revisited: Some aspects of housing overseas

With more funding available than we’ve seen in a generation, there is the will to reimagine social housing sites. Architects, urban designers and public servants have duly taken up the subject. But how to frame the problem?

Read more

Generation Exchange

In the rapid exchange of information that is now a daily reality of contemporary practice there seems to be little time for wisdom. Speed rules. Communication is dynamic. Considered correspondence remains an obligation of our profession yet the hourly deluge of emails that we all deal with in practice is anathema to this fundamentally important component of our practising modality.

Read more

Brunswick Lean-to: Blair Smith Architecture

Brunswick Lean-to is a discrete addition to a heritage-listed weatherboard cottage. The project draws upon the ubiquitous lean-to it replaced; a colloquial structure often overlooked or demolished in the event of an extension. Blair Smith Architecture demonstrates sensitivity and depth of thought, addressing opportunities and constraints through site-responsive spatial planning and the packaging of multifunctional elements in a robust, utilitarian structure.

Read more

Process over product

Breathe’s project for Aboriginal Housing Victoria has been approached with rigour to deliver a high-quality project embedded with sustainable design principles and cultural engagement.

Read more

This is not my Country

This is not my Country, and because it’s not my Country, I cannot speak on its behalf. This statement is true for me, and almost every built environment professional in Australia, so how can we work on and with the Countries that we are responsible for fundamentally modifying?

Read more