The Fenwick St project by Edition Office finds itself on the Birrarung/Yarra River’s significant edge near Yarra Bend Park. This location, with northern vistas extending to the valley and immediate river views as potent as the expansive horizon, provides rare connections to the landscape for a site near the city.
Fenwick Technical Information
- Architects1-4: Edition Office
- Location: Kew, Victoria, Australia
- Topics: Concrete Works
- Client: Ourangle
- Completion Year: 2022
- Photographs: © Rory Gardiner, © Timothy Kaye, © Lillie Thompson
Balancing density with visual porosity was critical to maintaining this linkage. Three visually independent pavilions, rather than a larger whole, could allow a balance of similar scaled forms with the neighbouring houses, while connecting to more immediate green spaces surrounding them.
– Edition Office Architects
Striking a Balance with Pavilions
Fenwick nestles within a high concentration of ’50s and 60’s post-war houses, gracefully arranged across the nearby sloping riverbanks. These connections are designed to be deeply integrated into the plan, keeping the link to the distant vista a part of the public realm.
Balancing density with visual porosity became vital for the architects to maintain the landscape connection. The project takes the form of three visually independent pavilions rather than a single large entity. This design allows harmony with neighboring houses and links to the surrounding green spaces.
These pavilions not only frame but also hold views through the site. Located at a street’s sharp bend, the pavilions – connected by a shared basement – push back into the hill, blending seamlessly with residential neighbors and gradually rising with the terrain towards the escarpment.
Living spaces open towards the north, the river, and the valley, with circulatory paths linking to these spaces and drawing the distant landscape deep into the plan. Bedrooms and ancillary spaces open to the pavilions’ green spaces, viewed through a copper mesh privacy veil.
The landscape design yearns for the building to be absorbed into the landscape, anchored to the site. The building’s mass and scale subtly shift and rotate with each floor, bringing movement to the walls. The weathering copper screening adds a level of delicacy to the robust, textured pre-cast concrete construction.
An Evolution of Materials and Space
While living within and being connected to the landscape was paramount, internal delight – light-filled private spaces full of comfort and detail – was equally critical. Flack Studio brought an intuitive response to landscape and context into the interiors, evoking warmth and calm with dramatic nuances. The design required the transformation of a site that previously housed one dwelling into nine new homes.
Respecting the site’s immense environmental and cultural value, the design introduces three distinct forms that adapt to the existing streetscape patterns and scale. Each pavilion, designed as a wedge, meets at their narrowest points, extending away from the densely planted center, allowing clear sight-lines through to the horizon beyond.
In addition to being intimately connected to the landscape, the project also places great emphasis on the evolving interior design. Material tactility and patina, displaying signs and patterns of life, register with the weathering of the copper screens and the gradual maturation of the surrounding gardens. An integral sense of joy in navigation is felt throughout, with carefully crafted junctions and thresholds resulting in an engaging interplay of materiality. This thoughtful assembly underscores the harmony between man-made structures and natural surroundings.
The brief’s major challenge was creating nine new dwellings where previously there was only one, without disturbing the site’s inherent environmental and cultural value. By distributing the potential mass of a single large volume into three distinct forms, the design integrates with the domestic patterns and scale of the existing streetscape.
Each pavilion, formed as a wedge, converges at their narrowest points, emanating architectural exuberance. This approach allows for clear sightlines between the pavilions and through to the horizon beyond, further emphasizing the integration of the project into its natural surroundings. In the Fenwick St project, architecture meets environmental stewardship, showcasing a blueprint for future urban developments.
About Edition Office
Edition Office is an architectural studio that infuses cultural, social, and technological research into its work, creating expressive forms that redefine community-place relationships. Their diverse portfolio, from residential to commercial, reimagines spaces that enrich occupants and the public realm.
Notes & Additional Credits
- Lead Architects: Kim Bridgland, Aaron Roberts, Molly Hibberd, Erin Watson
- Interiors: Flack Studio
- Construction: Coben Building
- Landscape: Eckersley Garden Architecture