Wrapping itself confidently around an L-shaped site, Alumuna Apartments offers contributory dual street frontages in Port Melbourne’s diverse urban landscape. Presenting as a dramatic concertina of sorts, the glazed façade creates an angled play on reflectivity and refraction, with sightlines both into and approaching distorted and obscured intentionally. The resulting apartments sit behind a veil of dynamism, protected and outward-focussed, where its full-height façade reverses the typical glass-box scenario.
Entering through the warmly timber-clad ground level, an immersive and sensorially engaging foyer welcomes its audience. The deliberately theatrical sense of entry confuses, posing almost as a public building of significance. Typical of Wood Marsh’s conceptual approach, with the removal of the typified and expected, the ideas of the ‘suburban’ are disrupted. Instead, the entry experience reflects the dignity of the previous dwellings of these anticipated homeowners, recaptured and reinterpreted. The custom abstract art installation along the main linear wall adds a sense of texture in its form, and depth through its composition and deep and subtle patina of its dark metal materiality and warm amber accent lighting.
Taking cues from the dynamism of the façade, the interior experience is emphasised by curving details that support and complement a natural movement. Natural materiality continues inward, with warm marble kitchen bench elements sitting sculpturally upon light coloured timber flooring. Full-height highly detailed joinery and storage conceal functional necessities, affording a sense of calm within. The bathrooms offer seamless terrazzo slab wall and floor coverings, with a matched warmth and refinement that feels both reclusive and immersive. Sitting atop the boutique apartments is the Penthouse that houses an elevated pallete of darker timber and natural stone finishes throughout.
Alumuna Apartments offer a sculptural relief from the neighbouring context of architectural style references and vernaculars, refreshingly so. Through the study of reclusion, the residential model is deconstructed, and reassembled with curious vigour. Ideas of transparency and visual alteration of varying materials and their interplay with light, offer relief from its adjacencies, carving out a sense of place and identity of its own. A reference to the Indigenous meaning of ‘a place’, Alumuna has its own gravitational gathering qualities, through its offering as a considered revaluation of what inner urban medium density living can look, and most imperatively, feel like.
The building shows a careful understanding of materiality to ensure longevity and low maintenance. Passive systems such as exposed concrete ceilings act as thermal mass allowing users to achieve thermal comfort. Inserted balconies and voids throughout the building allow occupants to cross ventilate and access natural light. The high-performance UV tinted double glazing is also thermally broken between exterior and interior spaces improving thermal efficiency. The building encourages sustainable practises with Bike storage facilities, solar panels and rainwater harvesting. In a mostly cold Melbourne climate, underfloor hydronic heating is utilised to achieve thermal comfort when passive practises do not suffice.
Ideas of transparency and visual alteration of varying materials and their interplay with light, offer relief from its adjacencies, carving out a sense of place and identity of its own. A reference to the Indigenous meaning of ‘a place’, Alumuna has its own gravitational gathering qualities, through its offering as a considered revaluation of what inner urban medium density living can look, and most imperatively, feel like.