The Eminence is a modern, intricately-designed apartment building that manages to subtly reference the Victorian architecture that is commonly seen in the Melboure suburb of Carlton.
From the architect:
The brief from the client was simple; “design an apartment building that people want to live in”. With this in mind, Plus Architecture set out to design spaces that residents could call home at a time when small, investor focused apartments were the prevailing market trend.
The overall architectural expression of The Eminence is one of calmness and rhythm, stability and clarity. Where the building meets the ground, there are moments of humour and play that talk to human scale and the archetypal yet renowned Melbourne laneway experience.
The Eminence was designed as three towers along a corridor axis; delivering a naturally lit and well-ventilated corridor, a rooftop dining room and a communal 14th floor terrace featuring incredible views over Carlton and the CBD skyline.
By designing a three-tower structure, the architects created light-filled corridor spaces and open yet private apartments for all occupants, welcoming and positioning between the busy CBD and Melbourne’s vibrant inner-north.
At the ground floor, the concept of a house has been developed into its most basic recognisable form and utilised around the base of the building at pertinent locations to define important accesses, create interest and activate the human scale interface of the building with sculptural and playful objects.
The theme of ‘home’ is represented through the perforated house motif girding the lobby entrance, providing a unique internal waiting space. This motif is continued through the alley around the side of the building, with a mix of street art and house structures clad in Corten (serving a double purpose of shielding building services) bringing the alley to life.
At street level, The Eminence communicates effortlessly and playfully with the typical two to three storey Carlton streetscapes, while the residential tower structures are overlaid with the form and overall scale of the city.
Separating the built form into three ‘towers’ along a corridor axis meant that the ends of the corridors could attain precious external frontage which allowed views and natural light into what are usually enclosed spaces. Further capitalising on this, the corridors are naturally ventilated at these ends by mechanically operated louvres.
During the town planning process, Plus Architecture successfully made a case for the provision of a 14-storey project, despite the existing 10-storey overlay, which was approved by VCAT. Ability to gain extra storeys and therefore more apartments enabled Plus to deliver a high yield return to the developer and due to the excellent design, all apartments were sold off the plan in six months.
The design of The Eminence included three-storey feature precast columns and halo beams reminiscent of the classic Victorian architecture which is so prominent throughout the Carlton landscape. Installing the façade proved challenging for the construction team. The intricacy of the design, including the protrusion and staggering of the columns, required considerable deliberation to achieve the architectural vision of seamless three-storey columns.
By incorporating setbacks and a sympathetic façade and streetwall, the project architects were able to successfully achieve a 15-storey result in a 10-storey overlay. In the design of the façade, three-storey concrete precast columns were specified. These were designed to sit at angles to each other to break up the façade, adding visual interest and integrating with varied surrounding landscapes.
The precast columns required careful documentation to ensure their installation and utilization proceeded smoothly. The intricate structure of the halo beams and three level feature precast angular columns proved to be the most challenging aspects of construction. Installation required considerations for installing and propping columns – both load bearing and non-load bearing over three levels until the structure was poured and tied into them. The rotation of the columns and beams off the delivery truck and their installation took considerable crane time. Combined with complex safety screens, significant coordination of the crane and program requirements was needed for all other works to efficiently progress to maintain the construction program. Achieving the structural completion before the Christmas break was a significant achievement.
- The Eminence achieved a five-star Greenstar rating.
- Energy efficient LED and fluorescent lighting are selected throughout the building and automated lighting controls in common areas were included.
- Gas fired hot water plant was installed to minimise greenhouse gas emissions from the domestic hot water demand from the facility. Solar hot water panels are envisaged to also offset 10 percent of the domestic hot water demand (on an annual basis).
- Selection of low formaldehyde composite wood products and low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints, carpets, flooring, adhesives and sealant selections.
- Timber selections for the site were sourced from sustainable locations with AFCS, FSC or PEFC accreditation.
- The project incorporates refrigerant and insulation selections that meet zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) ratings.