Jackson Clements Burrows’ recently completed multi-residential project in Melbourne, developed by Piccolo, has injected a three-dimensional topography to the bustling Swanston Street in Carlton.

Upper House is a $50 million, 17 storey apartment block split across two buildings which, going against traditions, don’t stand side by side. Instead, the Cloud apartments on levels 12 to 17 sit atop, and appear to levitate above the Podium apartments on floors 1 to 10.

Breaking up the two apartments on the 11th floor is a 500sqm, whole-floor communal area called the Observatory that includes a gym, lounge, entertaining area and external outdoor spaces that offer views of the city.

Located on the former Electrical Trades Union building, Upper House’s white façade is punctuated by balconies that cantilever out to create a dynamic façade, while maximising the internal floor spaces of the apartment’ 110 units.

The Cloud and Podium buildings utilise different materials that mark their distinct personalities, although these materials blend into each other for a fluid development. Precast concrete, white metal balconies and a matte finish anchor Podium to its urban environment and the streetscape, while Cloud’s white curtain wall system and glossy, slightly reflective façade with glass balconies adds to its ‘floating’ design.

Mirrors added to the undercroft and columns of the Observatory also add to the upper building’s cloud-like feeling by seemingly making the structure disappear.

“Upper House was designed to provide clarity among the noise that exists in this fringe city area,” architect Tim Jackson said.

“The white façade is soothing in its simplicity, while the interiors are refined, light-filled and intended to be an escape from the madness of the city below. Large floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the lights of the city, allowing time to pause and reflect on life below.”

A dark entry featuring floor-to-ceiling timber batons set against a mirrored background creates the illusion of more space in the small lobby, while neatly contrasting the building’s clean profile. 

The clean contrast of colours in the form of matte black fixtures and fittings against white walls continue within the apartments, which offer open plan living and cantilevering balconies, timber floorboards, and reconstituted stone kitchen benchtops.