2021 Western Australia Architecture Awards: Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing
George Street | MJA Studio
“To design new Architecture for George st in East Fremantle is a rare privilege and one not taken lightly by the project team. George st is one of Metropolitans Perth’s most enjoyable suburban high streets with buildings from a variety of eras that often share a consistency across setbacks, character materials and awnings.
Through a process of surveying the streetscape the design team observed the typical widths of individual shopfronts and buildings ranging from 6‐10m of frontage to George st. The design teams immediate concern with developing an amalgamated site which had a frontage of 20.7m was that without care and consideration of the proportions of the building it could overwhelm the streetscape.
To respond to this concern the built form is split into two contrasting portions of 10.3m in width creating the appearance of two buildings sharing datums that tie into their adjacent neighbours. The strength of this device is heightened by the sharp contrast between solidity and transparency, patterning and colour.
Masonry face brickwork is the principle external material for the Western form. It represents a celebration of the craftsmanship and coursing opportunities of the common brick. The union of the masonry elements combine multiple patterns, a language that subtly transitions in both horizontal and vertical directions.
In the vertical, a standard stretcher bond meets two course stacked Flemish Bond then transitions back to stretcher bond. In the horizontal direction the Flemish Bond transitions to a pixelated Brise Soleil patterning over internal windows. The double stacking of bricks is scaled to the expanse of facade this pattern covers.
The brickwork form is bookended at its edges with subtle projections and small reveals that emphasize its mass. Coursed transitions and terminations share an alignment with the transparent elements of the Eastern form which is predominantly charcoal and glass.
The shared element that overlaps these two forms is the balustrade, a raw galvanized
gridmesh whose transparency varies for the viewer depending on whether they are a pedestrian or home owner. The absence of picture framing and careful placement of connections to the base reinforce the subtle and bare form.
Whilst brick remains as an integral part of the building’s external fabric, it is also interwoven into the interior design. Where the building’s built form is resolved to appear as two contrasting characters, the interiors are where these contrasts intersect and become one language.
The apartment interiors are a reflection of the industrial and raw materials used externally and are designed to blend seamlessly. The interior palette includes exposed brick walls, black steel, concrete and textural wood accents. The outcome is a stripped down, edgy and refined aesthetic. Black steel is intertwined throughout the building, found in staircases, balustrading and bespoke furniture.
The apartments have been designed to allow maximum access to natural light and cross ventilation within a constrained site. Flexible open planned living areas are evident in all 8 apartments with operability of glazing prioritised.
We believe this project is a responsible and worthy addition to the street.”