Just metres from the murky waters of the Brisbane River sits an award winning project by bureau^proberts, a building with a somewhat unclear appearance of its own.

 ‘Silt’ is an eight storey luxury apartment block that extrudes vertically from a small block to the belly line of the adjacent Story Bridge. But the building does more than just match the underside height of the landmark city structure; you could even be forgiven for mistaking Silt as an unused (or misplaced) bridge pier.

The west, south and north aspects of the rectangular form are dominated by precast concrete massing and, when combined with the finer detailing like the dark steel entryway, patterns of exposed carriage bolts and black aluminium window frames, the building is as easily perceived as a 50s office building or a Ministry of Truth headquarters as it is a luxury apartment block.

The architects note that while their material choices do nod to Silt’s iconic and industrious surrounds they were also selected to work in conjunction with apartment layout, and to facilitate the best possible aspect, light, noise protection and ventilation.

For example, and as mentioned, the building is heavily massed on the western façade which offers optimal protection from the traffic pollution on Story Bridge. Moving clockwise, Silt’s northern side becomes lighter and features large undulating double glazed windows that appear like cracks in the precast concrete and provide natural light and views down towards the river.

150630_sunhoods.jpgAbove: Double glazed windows are protected by aluminium sun hoods
Below: Sliding screens add to occupant operability

The building’s eastern side (above) is probably the most humanised and gives the best indication that Silt is in fact an apartment block. It features seven large balconies – one each for Silt’s exclusive apartments—that are completely covered, or uncovered, by sliding louvre screens.  The louvres are mostly grey but a warmer hue features intermittently to break up the facades’ otherwise monolithic appearance.

Inside, bureau^proberts continued much of the building’s robustness, but clever selection of timber veneers, cedar screens and an immense amount of natural light save it from being a cold space.

2015046048_4_BureauProberts_Silt_ChristopherFrederickJones.jpgVeneers add warmth to the otherwise stark interiors environment. The same prefab finish used on the exterior façade was also specified for the interior kitchen bench.

Silt is notably stout in appearance, both inside and out, and the architects note that this has a variety of benefits beyond its immersion with the surrounding context.

“Environmental considerations include the use of building materials that require no or low maintenance, such as unpainted precast concrete as well as untreated cedar timber to screens,” bureau^proberts explains.

“These materials have long life spans which help reduce maintenance costs and also provide thermal mass for stabilisation of internal temperatures.”

Perhaps the most important measure of success for the architects is that the apartments were well received by the buying public as much as they have been by architecture media.  All of Silt’s seven apartments were sold for around $1 million more than the median price for the Kangaroo District, which at the time of sale was $475,000.

Silt was also the recipient of the Job & Froud Award in the Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing category at the 2015 Queensland Architecture Awards and the jury citation sums the project up below:

“The relationship between architect and client has resulted in a unique and confident piece of architecture, immaculately detailed and built to create a memorable experience. Comprised of seven single level apartments, its unique formation responds well to its iconic surroundings. Effectively addressing the brief, the building creates a visual and emotional connection to the river and park.”


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