C U R AT I NG com­mu­nit ie s

Belle - - Style Etiquette Right N Ow -

WHEN MELBURNIAN Michael Mccor­mack couldn’t find a house in a neigh­bour­hood he and his wife wanted to live in at a price they could af­ford, he de­cided to be­come a prop­erty de­vel­oper. So Mi­lieu was born in De­cem­ber 2010, when he was just 28.

“I bought a block of land in Fitzroy with a ter­race house on it, de­mol­ished it and built five town­houses for us and peo­ple like us who didn’t want to live too far out or in an in­ner-city tower block,” he ex­plains. “We’re in­ter­ested in the idea of com­mu­nity, sus­tain­abil­ity and good de­sign. All our projects are kind of pitched to our­selves,” ‘our­selves’ be­ing part­ners Shan­non Peach and Ross Troon and oth­ers in his im­me­di­ate mi­lieu.

Mccor­mack, as the grand­son of a car­pen­ter and with a de­gree in con­struc­tion man­age­ment and an un­der­stand­ing of law, may not be typ­i­cal, but he is em­blem­atic of a new spirit in the de­vel­op­ment sec­tor. Polyester pants and hard profit are no longer the driv­ing forces for a gen­er­a­tion of de­vel­op­ers who were born look­ing down the bar­rel of a hous­ing cri­sis. “When we started we had very lit­tle cash so we would take all the more chal­leng­ing sites – the tight, bizarre lit­tle blocks of land that no­body else could fig­ure out,” says Mccor­mack.

By find­ing de­sign so­lu­tions to spa­tial prob­lems Mi­lieu quickly made a name for it­self as a savvy, so­lu­tion-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment group. It was never about glitz, but the true grit of in­ner ur­ban liv­ing def­i­nitely had its ap­peal. Mi­lieu is ac­tive in Mel­bourne’s in­ner-north­ern sub­urbs, Mccor­mack’s home turf, al­ways close to ameni­ties such as pub­lic trans­port and schools.

Mi­lieu’s lat­est de­vel­op­ment in Breese Street, Brunswick, is de­signed by DKO and Breathe ar­chi­tects to be fos­sil-fuel-free with a 7.5-star sus­tain­abil­ity rat­ing and a max­i­mum of five neigh­bours per floor. “We’ve taken the lessons we learned in our town­houses and ap­plied them to apart­ment liv­ing,” says Mccor­mack.

The in­te­ri­ors are sim­ple vol­umes, floors are re­cy­cled hard­wood; ceil­ings and walls are con­crete – per­fect for ther­mal mass­ing. Ori­ented for pas­sive cool­ing, air­con­di­tion­ers are un­nec­es­sary and res­i­dents can opt for shared rooftop laun­dry fa­cil­i­ties to al­low more space in their own homes for stor­age. And to en­joy the land­scaped roof gar­den with its own Breese Street bees.

In a na­tion raised on subur­ban home own­er­ship, cre­at­ing in­ner city den­sity is vi­tal if we are to ad­e­quately house and ser­vice a grow­ing – and age­ing – pop­u­la­tion.

Michael Pic­colo at Pic­colo de­vel­op­ers helps ease down­siz­ing clients into apart­ments by of­fer­ing grown-up in­te­ri­ors by the likes of Hecker Guthrie and fea­tur­ing ap­pli­ances by Gagge­nau, Bang & Olufsen and Venini – and an op­tional in­te­rior de­sign con­sul­tant ser­vice to as­sist

them in sort­ing out the clut­ter. “A lot of our clients are scal­ing down from a home but don’t want to lose qual­ity,” he says. “They have to let a lot of things go and we’re there to help them nav­i­gate the process.”

Pic­colo took over the fam­ily firm 20 years ago and in 2013 de­cided to fo­cus on the owner-oc­cu­pier mar­ket. “There’s been a glut in in­vest­ment-type apart­ments for some time and many of them are shoddy,” he says. “I de­cided to fo­cus on the owner-oc­cu­pier mar­ket at the higher end, of­fer­ing qual­ity de­sign with ar­chi­tec­tural in­tegrity.” Pic­colo’s lat­est de­vel­op­ment, El­wood House over­look­ing Port Phillip Bay, is short­listed for the World Ar­chi­tec­ture Fes­ti­val Build­ing of the Year award, to be an­nounced in Am­s­ter­dam in Novem­ber.

At As­sem­ble, the close-knit group of young prop­erty direc­tors are in­tent on not just of­fer­ing ex­cep­tional de­sign in key in­ner-city lo­ca­tions, in July they launched the As­sem­ble Model as a means of as­sist­ing clients to fi­nance their home. An adap­ta­tion of the buildto-rent sys­tem that is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity in North Amer­ica, the As­sem­ble Model al­lows clients to se­cure a five-year lease off the plan with an op­tion to pur­chase at a pre-fixed price. The idea is to try-asyou-buy but with the right to opt out at any time. As­sem­ble also of­fers a not-for-profit fi­nan­cial ser­vice scheme.

“Over­all, this ap­proach re­sults in true align­ment be­tween res­i­dents and As­sem­ble as the prop­erty de­vel­oper and long-term man­ager of each build­ing,” says As­sem­ble’s strat­egy direc­tor Ben Keck. “This close re­la­tion­ship holds us di­rectly ac­count­able for the suc­cess of our projects – en­sur­ing that our com­mu­ni­ties are great places to live.”

The first apart­ment build­ing to be de­liv­ered un­der the As­sem­ble Model will be 393 Ma­caulay Road, Kens­ing­ton, just north of Dock­lands. Re­tain­ing the orig­i­nal art deco fa­cade, the new struc­ture de­signed by Field­work houses 73 apart­ments over eight lev­els. At the heart of the de­sign is a land­scaped, open-air walk­way to al­low crossven­ti­la­tion and dual-as­pect nat­u­ral light to all homes.

“The en­tire com­mu­nity will be con­nected through com­mu­nal spa­ces on the up­per and ground floors: places for work, eat­ing and leisure to­gether,” says As­sem­ble’s de­sign direc­tor Quino Hol­land. “The aim is for the build­ing to im­prove with age through durable ma­te­ri­als, flex­i­ble spa­ces, good ac­cess to nat­u­ral light, strong con­nec­tion be­tween in­door and out­door spa­ces, ro­bust en­ergy sys­tems and in­te­grated land­scap­ing. It’s about live­abil­ity – im­ple­ment­ing a clear set of stan­dards that pro­mote a bet­ter qual­ity of life.”

In an un­der-sup­plied mar­ket, if you build it they will come. But the real skill is get­ting them to stay. “We care about the le­gacy we leave and the com­mu­nity that grows in and around our apart­ments,” says Mccor­mack, echo­ing the new spirit of 21st-cen­tury de­vel­op­ment. mi­lieuprop­erty.com.au; as­sem­blecom­mu­ni­ties.com; pic­colo.net.au

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