Designs revealed for North Melbourne public housing renewal

The Victorian government has revealed a development plan for the renewal of a public housing precinct in North Melbourne that will increase the number of social housing dwellings by 21 and introduce up to 235 private dwellings.

There are currently 112 social housing units on the 1.2-hectare subject site, which is a triangular-shaped property bounded by Abbotsford Street, Haines Street and Molesworth Street.

The redeveloped precinct, dubbed Molesworth Place, is to be designed by McBride Charles Ryan, with landscape architecture by TCL. The aim is to build 133 social housing dwellings (47 one-bedroom, 80 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom) along with anywhere between 135 and 235 private houses.

Planning documents going before the City of Melbourne on 13 October state that “the design intent of the project is to provide high-quality social and private housing that integrates seamlessly into the existing fabric of the area and is tenure blind to the public realm.”

“The architectural quality of the project borrows from the existing neighbourhood character elements, and seeks to deliver an innovative design to the locality.”

Molesworth Place by McBride Charles Ryan with landscape architecture by TCL.

The design response envisions a series of interconnecting buildings ranging from three to five storeys, with shared courtyards drawing residents and visitors through sheltered spaces that encourage social interaction. A public plaza and link between Haines Street and Little Haines Street will add to public realm engagement and passive recreation.

High-quality and robust materials, including brick and concrete, will be used for both the private and social housing to ensure that they are “complementary and integrated.”

“The proposal incorporates porous and permeable architectural gestures to soften and relieve the expansive site lengths on Haines Street and Abbotsford Street,” the architects state in planning documents. “The mix of materials, colours and finishes create articulation and interest along the site’s boundaries and street elevations.”

The project is part of the Victorian government’s $2.6 billion Homes for Victorians strategy to increase and renew public housing and address homelessness. An estimated 100,000 people are on the waiting list for public housing in Victoria, and despite calls from economists, community groups and architects, the federal government included no funding for direct investment in public housing in last week’s budget.

City of Melbourne management is advising councillors to support the proposed development plan for Molesworth Place. It will be developed over several stages, allowing for infrastructure and shared facilities to be progressively delivered to minimize impacts on the neighbourhood. The government expects construction to begin in 2021 for completion in 2025.

Source: Architecture - architectureau

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