A photograph of Sydney Rd
Sydney Road, Melbourne

Melbourne’s inner north is home to some of Australia’s best sustainable housing projects and more are on the way.

Melbourne-based property developer Excelon Group has joined other developers in the city’s inner-north hotspot of sustainable housing, with a new project that is aiming for a 7.5-star NatHERS rating.

Excelon’s Two Eleven Sydney Road development follows the success of its Clyde Mews project, a sustainable residential development in the nearby suburb of Thornbury that broke the residential price per square metre sales record – achieving $10,000 a square metre for the apartments and $8500 for the townhouses.

Melbourne’s trendy inner north is the birthplace of Breathe Architects’ Nightingale and The Commons, as well as a host of other sustainable housing exemplars.

The 21 apartments being built by Excelon at 211 Sydney Road in Brunswick are next to a Nightingale project, and have much in common with that renowned model for building environmentally, socially and financially sustainable developments.

Like Clyde Mews, Two Eleven Sydney Road has been designed by architects Six Degrees. Excelon director Kelvin Taing hopes the focus on social and environmental sustainability will appeal to home buyers in the area.

“Purchasers are asking about the sustainability and community-minded credentials of new developments more and more,” Taing says.

“We found, with the success of the Clyde Mews project, that purchasers were asking after two things: how is the project sustainable, and how will the design encourage a sense of community. We designed Two Eleven Sydney Road with these two key deliverables in mind.”

Taing says purchasers believe the sustainability credentials will save them money in the long run. He says there is a growing market of home buyers who genuinely care about the carbon footprint of their homes.

“People feel happier when they are doing the right thing … we want to help people do the right thing.”

Light filled, urban heat resistant

Taing says the population in inner north of Melbourne is particularly attuned to the sustainable lifestyle movement. “They are interested in doing their part for the environment.”

An internal shaft directing natural light from the roof through the building is key to the design. The apartment block will also harvest rainwater, and have solar power, LED lighting, hydronic heating, double glazed windows and shutter screens that can be opened or closed to control sunlight. 

The building will have high thermal mass thanks to an exposed concrete ceiling and double aspects for cross ventilation.

Together with the 7.5-star NatHERS rating, these design features will stop the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments from heating up too much in summer, according to Taing.

There’s no parking but a train station is close by. Taing says this aligns with the Moreland City Council’s strategy to reduce cars and put a limit on new developments with carparks that are close to public transport.

Building communities

The building’s 1888 former bank heritage façade will remain, as will any of the existing structure that can be salvaged. Some recycled bricks will be used.

There will be a rooftop garden with a shared vegie patch. Taing says providing spaces for running into your neighbours at random help fosters a genuine community.

“You can’t create a community, but you can foster one,” he says.

The green spaces will also help combat the urban heat island effect and make the apartments more comfortable to live in.

Other examples of sustainable design and architecture in the area include Kincaid’s Due North residential development in Preston, Milieu’s 57-apartment Breese Street development in Brunswick and a new collaborative housing project by sustainability consultancy HIP V. HYPE and Archier architects called the Davison Collaborative project.

A Northcote home designed by architects Melbourne Design Studios with strong biophilic features recently won a suite of awards at Building Design Awards, including the Best Environmentally Sustainable award.

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