A once gritty, working class northern suburb where multiple underworld figures were murdered is rewriting Melbourne’s architectural legacy for units.
Despite a sordid past, Brunswick has dominated the 2022 Victorian Architecture Awards shortlist for the multiple housing category, with three of the 11 projects waiting to be judged located in the suburb.
A fourth project, Nightingale Ballarat, is an evolution of the original Nightingale building established in Brunswick in 2014.
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That was 10 years after Lewis Moran, father of infamous brothers Jason and Mark, was shot dead at the Brunswick Club in 2004 – little more than a week before underworld figure Lewis Caine was found murdered nearby.
Terrace House, designed and developed by Austin Maynard Architects, is shortlisted for the category and is the next-door neighbour to the Brunswick Club on Sydney Rd.
Architect and principal Andrew Maynard said the suburb was popular with “left of centre” residents who appreciated more sustainable and unique builds – and noted its gangland history “might be why it had been surprisingly low in land price”.
“We put the entry on Saxon St (rather than Sydney Rd), but even that has a checkered history with violence and thefts,” Mr Maynard said.
“But part of what we are doing is trying to make areas like this different – better.”
Further Brunswick nominations in the Australian Institute of Architecture’s Victorian awards include BKK Architects and Clare Cousins Architects’ 17 Union St project and Balfe Park Lane by Kerstin Thompson Architects.
AIA Victorian state manager Tim Leslie added that with buyers more open to sustainable builds and the suburb well served by public transport as well as offering a 20-minute lifestyle, many Brunswick projects were able to reduce or avoid adding basement carparking.
“If you don’t have to dig a big hole, you don’t have to then build back out of that, and you have saved a huge amount of cost and time on the project,” Mr Leslie said.
“And therefore you can reinvest into the architecture. And that frees you up to create much more human-centric outcomes.”
Urban Development Institute of Australia Victorian chief executive Matthew Kandelaars said inner-city suburbs were “full of character, good and bad, that lends them to adaptation and renewal” but Brunswick’s past likely meant it still provided “more bang for your buck”.
“And that provides developers with the ability and the lower cost base to innovate with,” Mr Kandelaars said.
The shortlist also covers the efforts of Edition Office at 231 Napier Street, Jackson Clements Burrows Architects’ FitzroyHouse and Object Subject Architecture’s work at 44 Greeves St, all in nearby Fitzroy.
Social initiatives are also in the running in the category and include Studio Bright’s Women’s Property Initiatives OlderWomen’s Housing and St Albans Housing, by NMBW Architecture Studio in association with Monash Art, Design & Architecture.
Each of the projects will compete with Australia 108, Victoria’s tallest tower, for the multiple housing award.
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