Completed in 2015 Trinity Apartments is a 24 apartment development located in Victoria, Australia. The project was designed and delivered by k20 Architecture to conform to the innovative NRAS (National Rental Assistance Scheme) policy to deliver low cost housing. The challenge was to deliver an affordable housing solution that was low cost but with a high design quality.
Whilst the land is located just 8kms from Melbourne’s CBD it faces Geelong Road which is a six lane highway, and is one of Melbourne’s busiest heavy haulage roads. The choice to use concrete was aimed at bridging the aspirational needs of a gentrifying West Footscray within the context of its industrial past. Concrete delivers a dense super structure providing high levels of acoustic and thermal performance outcomes for occupants.
This project aimed to stand apart from typical affordable housing developments that can through various measures of cost control, lose elements of design in favour of economic rationalism. Instead, k20 Architecture sought to create affordable architecture that maintained design integrity and enabled cost savings to the occupants beyond the design and construction period.
This project evolved as a development project for k20 Architecture with the aim of delivering an environmentally sustainable social housing project with a design quality usually reserved for the private sector.
The concept of trinity emerged from its geographical location as the apartments are located close to the junction of three major cross roads in West Footscray; Geelong Road, Roberts Road and Somerville Road which in plan, in cut a triangular form through the landscape. The trinity concept was transposed graphically to be made up of three elements. An insignia was designed in-house to reflect the trilogy concept as well as an organic figure to juxtapose the modernist form. This form is evident in the cut out at the Geelong road entry point, to the shadows cast by the large cut outs in the roof to the North and South elevations and most notably visible in the custom designed precast concrete walls to the East and West. It is here that the trinity emblem is most evident as a montage from a distance and as a single element experienced at human scale from Ground Level.
A further notion of ‘Trinity’ was expressed by linear cross planning. This rectilinear planning enabled the apartment building form to be crafted and cut into 4 quadrants. The quadrants enabled connections to be folded through the
planning of the block. Each apartment has access to natural daylight in every room as well as in the corridors. To promote social interaction, the foyer was designed to be double the width of a usual foyer which enables moments
for connection and conversation. The internal passageways are short and connect all of the occupants with city views in the common areas. Further social interactive spaces include the rear social garden which is connected with Stoney Creek and is not fenced nor closed off. This enables the social space to be shared with the broader community and a greater connection with the residents outside the block.
A three storey void at the entry creates a dramatic entry point to the building and allows daylight to penetrate the common area of each level. This also affords a view line of the city for all occupants from the common internal
In an effort to bring the outside environment closer to the occupants each room was designed with a private balcony overlooking Stony Creek Reserve- with each room having access to the balcony.
Trinity Apartments achieved a NatHERS sustainability star rating of 9.1 stars of out 10 with the average star rating across the full project of 7.3. This was achieved with passive solar design principles on a constrained site, including double glazing and high levels of insulation. The project incorporates a large common landscaped retreat area, secluded from the roads and facing Stoney Creek to the north.
Throughout the building k20 incorporated energy efficient fittings, motion and light sensors and high performing appliances. Selection of finishes and building materials were made to lower the environmental cost of both embodied energy in the project and the energy output estimated over the life of the building.
Trinity Apartments is an Architecture led project of which the Directors of k20 Architecture purchased the land, raised the equity and obtained the finance to deliver a vision of high quality affordable housing.
Following the success of Trinity Apartments, k20 Architecture are currently designing Eternity Apartments on the other side of Stony Creek and also in West Footscray. Eternity will occupy only 50 percent of the land, approximately 1,500 square metres. Rather than turn its back on Stony Creek and its banks, the design will fully embrace this unique location. Unlike the developer, who was intending to denude the site, k20 Architecture will re-establish the embankment, introducing native species that once existed.