Wedged on a jagged and challenging site in Melbourne, the Bellfield project is a series of three townhouses that has completely revitalised what was a difficult site through a clever and progressive design that stands boldly in the streetscape. In this project Robbie J Walker shows the value that can be created on challenging sites when ingenuity and design are combined. It also shows exactly how Melbourne suburbs can be reinvigorated for the future.
Most would consider the site too unusable but the team saw it as an advantage for many reasons. It allowed them to purchase a decently sized piece of land to develop and meant the design had to be highly resolved in order to be successful. Although certainly adding layers of complexity to the overall design, it was because of the site’s inherent issues that Robbie J Walker was able to more easily acquire the land for the project.
“Several design features set this project apart including the integration of a rooftop terrace, a first of its kind in the area. The materiality both inside and out also speaks to an Australian vernacular, while maintaining an eye on budgetary constraints, with the façade defined by corrugated iron and vertical timber panelling. Inside besa block concrete walls are softened by polished timber floors, polished concrete and white minimalist joinery.” – Robbie Walker
The project makes the most of the unusual shape, resulting in two traditional homes, while one tackles the plot with more acute, sharp angles. Each of the three houses consider liveability and durability, having ultimately been designed for growing families. Living spaces opening out onto terraces offer both visual and physical connection to the surrounding environment, while the internal stairs have been designed without risers, essentially allowing light to filter across multiple levels.
“The project is unique in that it uses a site that presents a big challenge. Through the design process and the design response, the Trio of Townhouses brings together a distinct Australian identity through its use of materiality, namely corrugated iron and timber panelling. The forms seen on the façade also look modern and contemporary, showcasing how good design can create a new kind of streetscape.” – Robbie Walker
Designed and built by Robbie J Walker, this urban infill project shows what is possible when creativity comes together with determination, having taken close to a year for council approvals. The resulting outcome could even be used as a blueprint for the future of Melbourne’s suburbs.