Yarra House is an apartment building in Fairfield, Melbourne offering affordable student accommodation. Located on Yarra Street, it is the closest building to the river and takes design inspiration from the river.

Designed by Bird de la Coeur Architects and Hassell Studio, and built by IconCo with Webber Design serving as the engineer on the project, Yarra House uses a timber-inspired materials palette to introduce warmth, colour, texture and durability to the building.

The curved timber canopy and battened timber ceiling made from Pacific teak define the entry into Yarra House. Timber has been heavily used in the communal spaces where the residents socialise, adding colour to the environment.

Sustainably sourced Pacific teak, commonly used in boat building, was chosen for durability, strength, fine lustrous texture, excellent steam bending and low tangential shrinkage (2%), which was important on a west-facing exterior. Externally, it was treated with Cabot’s Deck and Exterior Stain tinted with a customised Dulux formula to match the timber veneer joinery that gives the space warmth and human scale.

Recycled ironbark was used for the pool pergola, roof terrace decking, BBQ area and seating on the rooftop, 23 levels above the street where durability is essential. The textures of the smooth mother-of-pearl and glass tower are contrasted with the timber. Re-toned fumed oak crown cut timber veneer was used in the foyer and business lounge joinery; the oak was chosen for its soft muted colour. Timber features heavily in the decorative element of the design.

Photographer: Adam Cleave