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An additional "layer" of the city. Melbourne housing development idea

Dobrawa Bies
10 of January '23

A {tag:studenci}, an architecture student at the Wrocław University of Technology, has an idea for the housing shortage problem in downtown Melbourne. His proposal is a structure "suspended" over existing buildings, creating an additional layer of the city. The concept, made in steel frame construction, allows for duplication and densification of buildings. The work received an honorable mention in the SARP Wrocław 2021 Engineering Diploma of the Year competition.

Piotr Soltys' project "Reinterpretation of Melbourne's residential structure" is an engineering thesis, made under the direction of dr. Mark Lamber.

 Proponowany obiekt został nadbudowany nad istniejącymi budynkami Projekt jest sposobem na dogęszczanie centrum miasta

The project is an idea to solve the housing deficit

© Piotr Soltys

Melbourne housing development

The presented work was carried out as part of the Buildner platform competition, whose challenge was to design new living space for the city's growing population. Participants were to propose additional living space in an enclosed area of former suburbs. The designed system was to be easily replicable, modular and bring new value at the city scale, and stand in opposition to further suburban expansion.

The beginning of my work on the topic was to analyze the urban context, finding its values and problems. Choosing the right space for a systemic solution to the housing deficit. As a result, I determined that the areas of the city located between the strict business center of "the CBD" and the contemporary single-family suburbs would be the right place for a competitive intervention. The area is covered by quarters of 19th and 20th century buildings. The ownership structure of the plots is highly fragmented, the buildings are rather small in scale. Two- and three-story townhouses form the street frontages, while outbuildings and courtyards are largely built-up. There are almost no buildings of vertical character. The development, although compact, is rather extensive in character, in the context of a multi-million dollar metropolis like Melbourne. The central location and historical character, make these former suburbs have technical, communication and social infrastructure of good quality, they are former suburbs that have now found themselves in the center of the metropolis. The developments in the dominant part have service and commercial functions," says Piotr Soltys.

Widok na Melbourne wraz z proponowanymi obiektami

A view of Melbourne with the proposed superstructure

© Piotr Soltys

new layer of the city

In response to the competition task, the PWr student decided to propose a new residential structure "suspended" over the existing buildings and forming an additional layer of the city. As the author says, the designed structure would draw functional patterns from the existing context and remain a background for it in terms of aesthetics.

Projekt budynku mieszkalno-usługowego, elewacja

The author proposed a residential structure "suspended" over existing buildings

© Piotr Soltys

The character of the new development would result from the depth of the tracts, the width of the plots, the height and intensity of the buildings "below." Covering the roofs with biologically active areas would address the deficit of green recreational areas in this part of the city and the urban heat island problem.

Dach budynku jest trenem biologicznie czynnym

The roof of the building is a biologically active area

© Piotr Soltys

The scale of the designed structure makes it possible to treat these green roofs in a scenographic way and, through them, to refer to the natural landscape of these areas before urbanization, the designer adds.

the building as a fragment of a larger establishment

Piotr Soltys turned the competition task into an engineering work, but in it he focused on a more detailed design of a single residential and commercial building.

Projekt budynku mieszkalno-usługowego, PZT  Projekt budynku mieszkalno-usługowego, rzut poziomu 0

PZT and level 0 projection

© Piotr Soltys

This is an attempt to give a viable framework for a broader idea related to the competition. Based on regulations and structural and construction realities, I wanted to demonstrate the possibility of replicating this concept on a larger scale in the city of Melbourne. The proposed building on ideological grounds is the first stage / fragment of a larger premise," explains Piotr Soltys.

Wnętrze open space biurowego

The interior of the office open space

© Piotr Soltys

The selected building plot is located in the corner of the quarter and is adjacent to Gertrude Street and Gote Street to the west and south. The project takes advantage of the corner location, the most attractive in terms of light and sunlight for locating apartments. The author also assumed that the sunniest sections inside the quarters of the development would house services, such as retail, parking, technical and storage spaces. At street level, he placed only the entrances to the building and basic technical rooms. On the first and second floors, he proposed more than nine hundred square meters of office space for about a hundred employees. There are two large rooms for open space work, a large conference room of more than one hundred square meters, and smaller office and support spaces.

Projekt budynku mieszkalno-usługowego, aksonometria konstrukcji Pomysł może być powielany

The building is designed with a steel frame structure, can be duplicated

© Piotr Soltys

The entire facility was constructed in a skeletal, steel structure. The choice of steel was dictated by the port character of the city and the possibility of its reuse. To optimize it, the young architect envisaged a lightweight floor structure on trapezoidal sheet metal formwork and lightweight curtain wall and partition wall systems.

Obiekt składa się z dwóch kondygnacji usługowych i dwóch mieszkalnych

The building consists of two service and two residential floors

© Piotr Soltys

various types of apartments

Above the office zone of the designed building there are two residential floors. The author proposed several types of apartments, differentiated from each other, which allowed him to achieve several configurations and fit different living models. The first type is a single-level apartment of about 55 square meters with a separate bathroom, bedroom and open living area with kitchenette. The next apartments are shown as two-story, two-bedroom apartments of about 66 square meters. The living area is on the first floor from the entrance, while the sleeping area is on the second floor.

Projekt budynku mieszkalno-usługowego, rzut poziomu 3 Projekt budynku mieszkalno-usługowego, rzut poziomu 4

The apartments are located on the 3rd and 4th levels

© Piotr Soltys

Similarly, the designer also planned larger apartments with two (77 square meters) and three bedrooms (115 square meters). He also included in the program assumptions one apartment of over 160 square meters with four bedrooms and a large open living area in a circulation layout.

The proposed large square meters are related to an analysis of the average size of apartments in Melbourne and the aspiration for the statistical resident of the city to own about a hundred square meters of apartment or house, Peter adds.

Wnętrze jednego z mieszkań

The interior of one of the apartments

© Piotr Soltys

A total of eighteen configurable apartments were located on the top two floors of the building. The last floor is made up of recreational facilities related to the use of the green roof.

Read also about the design of a shelter in Croatia by Paulina Górecka, which also received an honorable mention in the SARP Wrocław 2021 Engineering Diploma of the Year competition.

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