The restricted and prominent site in Port Melbourne offers the opportunity to generate a design that echoes the historical significance of the context, shifting the composition of the streetscape. Mint Apartments celebrate the site’s maritime location, with a varying façade treatment reflecting the bay in close proximity. Concrete faceting of the southern and western façade pays tribute to Port Phillip Bay as a rhythmic composition is generated when light gives the faceted forms their three-dimensional character. Conversely, the north and west facades are primarily glazed and formerly scattered to capture light and reflect it in different spectrums and directions, producing a rippled effect that emulates the play of light on water, further alluded to by the rich emerald tones of the glazing.
The scale and form of Mint respond directly to the surrounding context, aiming to provide a rich and timeless addition to the local vernacular, sitting proudly but not obtusely in the streetscape. Mint’s plans vary across the 4 levels, creating visual interest on the west façade as balconies shift location creating a cadence between solid and void whilst functionally enhancing living area views as they extend beyond the building fabric. Insertion of balconies across the building’s facades not only allows natural light to seep into the internal spaces but provides the opportunity for natural cross-ventilation, one of many passive design techniques employed. Internally apartments vary between a robust dark colour scheme and a light-hued restrained palette, allowing the user to customise the interior to reinforce the idea of user participation and connection to home.
Similarly drawing from the context as precedents, the ground floor façade takes stimulus from the native vegetation prevalent within the Port Phillip Bay foreshore area. The ‘virtual landscape’, created in collaboration with Australian artist Tony Clark, consists of three different sized 3m galvanized steel angles, painted in various shades of green, carefully selected to correspond and reflect an indigenous species of plant found in the immediate locality. Variation in size and colour of the urban artwork continues this motif of movement and flux emulated across each of the building’s facades. The sculptural screen uses colour, materiality and light to animate the main street frontage of the building, engaging passing local residents.
Continuing the site-specific design down to the street interface establishes a strong and vibrant urban marker for the prominent location. At night the playful public artwork is further revealed, with the undulating sculptural forms dramatically illuminated by coloured LED’s to highlight the artwork and enhance public appreciation generated by light and shadow. This light installation also increases activation and passive surveillance for foot traffic at night in the area contributing to the context more broadly.