Johnston Street Abbotsford is really taking off! It’s an inner-city strip that’s quickly regenerating, with a growing number of apartment proposals in the works…and why not? It’s a great place to live. But are these new buildings going to enhance or detract from the historic structures they sit alongside?
This speculative project uses a catenary curve to create a passive connection between two buildings of significant heritage value. A catenary is a naturally occurring shape created by a cable suspended between two points. Introducing a curve between the two original buildings felt like an appropriate formal response, one that would be respectfully deferential to its context.
Classicism x Whimsy
How can we allude to the austerity of classical architecture but also instil some joy within the grit of an inner-city road?
Literal references to classical architecture are offset by the motif of the catenary curve, giving a sense of whimsy to the most rudimentary material within the developer’s palette: precast concrete. A white mesh screen gives an ethereal quality to the podium levels, its lightness and transparency sitting in contrast to the solidity of the neighbouring buildings. The use of peach coloured steel elements playfully tie the new steel details to the pigment of buildings in the immediate context.
You Have Neighbours!
The planning of the apartments eliminates the requirement of a generic corridor arrangement. The common spaces between apartments are open catwalks with areas for planting, sitting and interaction (refer plan above). Steel screens to each apartment entry allow for secure cross-flow ventilation of living spaces. Apartment kitchens open up to the catwalk, a feature that is conducive to inner-apartment drinks and dinner parties!
Sensitive urban infill projects like this one require a design response that will contribute to the layering of the urban fabric, one that reinforces the embodiment of history within our early buildings. Preservation isn’t just about keeping an old building façade, it's about respect, manifested through thoughtful built-form solutions.