This project uses the Nightingale Housing Model. The Nightingale Model is triple bottom line development model that delivers homes that are environmentally, socially and financially sustainable. The goal of each Nightingale project is to provide quality urban housing, with high sustainability outcomes, at an affordable price. Further information can be seen at www.nightingalehousing.org
The growing Nightingale database consists of over 1400 potential purchasers, all of whom have an interest in the model and are open to living in a sustainable car-free community. We have surveyed these people to gauge, among many questions, who among them are interested in living at 209 Sydney Road, Brunswick and whether they have a requirement for 1, 2 or 3 bedroom apartments.
Through this survey and a further interview process, all purchasers will be vetted to ensure that they will be owner occupiers, that they truly understand the nature of the project and that they have no requirement for car parking. To date we have approximately 190 potential purchasers who wish to live in this vertical community, with the vast majority interested in utilising the existing sustainable transport infrastructure provided in Brunswick as their only mode of transport, including public transport, walking, cycling and car share.
TONY PATTON, OWNER OF KINKI GERLINKI
Tony Patton is the owner of 209 Sydney Road and the retail business Kinki Gerlinki. Tony is a long time resident of Brunswick who has watched as developer led housing has changed his beloved Brunswick in ways that he has been saddened to see. Tony has been approached by profit driven developers in the past who have offered to purchase 209 Sydney Road. Rather than “cashing in” and leaving Brunswick, Tony has decided to become part of the housing solution. Rather than enabling poor development to continue in his suburb, Tony approached Nightingale Housing and asked how he could help create an ethical, sustainable home for himself and for others.
Austin Maynard Architects and Tony have been working together, along with the guidance of the Nightingale Housing not-for-profit board, to design a building and community to be proud of. Tony won’t be selling up and moving away. Once Nightingale 3.0 has finished construction Tony will own an apartment and Kinki Gerlinki with continue to operate on Sydney Road. Other apartments will be sold to owner-occupiers who have also helped guide the design process, and a vibrant community will be established.
Like everyone involved in Nightingale, Tony has put his money where his mouth is to ensure that Brunswick, and Melbourne, create an ethical, sustainable and affordable future.
THE BRUNSWICK COMMUNITY
Brunswick is a wonderfully diverse suburb, with residents from a range of different socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicity and lifestyles. Issues of equality, sustainability, the arts and ethics are high priorities of many residents of Brunswick as evidenced through voting tendency over the years. The majority of purchasers of Nightingale 3.0 are locals of Brunswick and many are renters in the area who have been unable to find affordable and liveable options to purchase locally. They already have an established social network and make use of the public and commercial transport options in the area. Issues of finding a liveable, yet cost effective homes are forcing many locals to relocate to other suburbs further from the city, away from established social networks and infrastructure such as reliable public transport.
THE NIGHTINGALE 3.0 HOME OWNERS
In June 2016 we made available a survey to the Nightingale purchaser list. The results from that survey have strongly informed the design of Nightingale 3.0. 194 respondents have expressed a willingness to purchase homes designed by Austin Maynard Architects at 209 Sydney Road. The survey revealed that 160 respondents are ready to put down deposits as owner-occupiers, whilst the remaining 34 purchasers were in the process of finalising their finances. 55% of respondents are first home buyers and 75% of respondents are under 45. The vast majority of respondents wanted a shared laundry, rooftop clothes line to ensure that they had larger living spaces. A rooftop garden was very important to most respondents. Everyone was concerned about climate change and the majority wanted a highly sustainable development. Almost no-one requested air-conditioning, with the knowledge that Austin Maynard would be designing a highly thermal efficient building. 23% of respondents requested 1 bedroom homes, 53% requested 2 bedroom homes and 20% requested 3 bedroom homes. Other respondents asked for larger homes. The vast majority of respondents want a car free home as almost everyone commutes via public transport, bicycles and walking and Uber.
Brunswick is one of the most eclectic and multi-cultural suburbs of Melbourne. It has a rich and diverse heritage. We aim for Nightingale 3.0 to be a type of love letter to Brunswick’s eclectic heritage and specifically to its often undervalued Mediterranean-Australian built history. Sadly arches and brown brick are not in fashion at the moment and as such we are seeing the erasure of a very important part of post war Australia. Nightingale 3.0 borrows not only from the plethora of unique arches along Sydney Road, but also from the often undervalued Mediterranean history of the area. Importantly, Nightingale 3.0 will avoid masonry arches on the eastern and western facades and instead will be constructed from metal mesh. This ensures that occupants of Nightingale 3.0 will have an abundance of natural light and as well as a mesh for vegetation to grow on.
AN URBAN RESPONSE TO TRANSIT & PARKING
As determined by the transport plan, increased car usage of Saxon should be discouraged. The width, the pedestrian park and the private road all contributed to a street that cannot effectively tolerate car usage. Increased car activity would not only be an ineffective transport outcome, it would be to the absolute detriment of the area and would effectively terminate the moment for Saxon to become an important public space and artery to important public infrastructure such as the school, the baths, the train, bike path, library, council building and other services tightly packed in this unique public realm. Furthermore the purchasers of Nightingale 3.0 have articulated a commitment to sustainable transport options and a history of non-car usage during their time living elsewhere in Brunswick. The transport solution is an ideal solution not only for the residents of Nightingale 3.0, but importantly for the broader community and its public spaces and infrastructure.
RESPONSE TO BRUNSWICK’S BUILT HERITAGE
The design of Nightingale 3.0 is a direct response to Brunswick’s rich and diverse built heritage. The design responds to far more than just the Victorian heritage in the area. Brunswick contains some of the best examples of post war Mediterranean-Australian architecture. Brunswick also has an intriguing industrial history that remains to this day. Nightingale 3.0 borrows from this context in a respectful and playful way. Sydney Road has a unique and wonderful collection of arches of various types and epochs. We’ve studied the Sydney Road facades and have created a modern interpretation of the context, yet using light utilitarian materials on the eastern and western facades that reflect Brunswick’s industrial past. Although we are very fond of the masonry arch balconies of neighbouring buildings the lack of natural light provides poor amenity to the inhabitants compared to the metal mesh and gardens proposed at Nightingale 3.0.
Undertaking yet another dumb, boxy, masculine development is exactly what Brunswick does not need. Neither does it need a direct copy of heritage structures. Instead we have designed a green lung that borrows the forms and rhythms of the area. The utilitarian concrete and metal mesh provide the backdrop for substantial gardens on the east and west facade and elegant, simple graphics of the North and South facades. The balustrading is simple vertical aluminium posts which ensure that the balconies are not scalable by youngsters whilst providing abundant light to the Nightingale inhabitants.
Our vision is that Nightingale 3.0 will become a vertical community garden within a masonry context. Our aim is to provide a tall garden full of life.
Nightingale 3.0 will house owner-occupiers who have expressed their desire to live in a green building both in a sustainable sense, and also in a garden sense. Through surveys of the Nightingale purchaser list it has been established that the owners of Nightingale 3.0 homes love the roof top garden at The Commons yet desire even more access to gardens and gardening. Unlike many developments, which are aimed at investors and renters, Nightingale 3’s owner-occupier communities will ensure that greenery thrives on both Sydney Road and Saxon Street. As apposed to apartment buildings occupied by renters, Nightingale 3.0 owner-occupiers they will be “house proud” and will ensure that the arched garden forms of their community add vibrancy and amenity to the broader context.
"Last weekend 10 of our neighbours, Jason and I went out for breakfast together with 9 week old Henrietta along in the pram. It’s been 3.5 years since we moved to The Commons and life has certainly changed a lot and for the better since we made the move. It got me thinking about how I had never lived anywhere before where I had a relationship with my neighbours. Let alone a relationship where I was willing to sit down for brekky with 10 of them for a couple of hours. It was spontaneous too, something we’d decided to do that morning over a group WhatsApp message. I don’t think it’s a fluke that we all get along so well. Our building has been designed in such a way that you kind of have to get to know your neighbours. For an introvert like me and my partner, this is something we normally shy away from - but when you have a communal laundry, communal garden, communal rooftop for entertaining, downstairs coffee shop and wine bar, you kind of just naturally get to know everyone. And it’s not scary - it’s great! We now have friends so close, we can call on them no questions asked to let us in when we lock ourselves out, borrow a cup of rice, bring in our washing when the rain starts to pour, help pump up your bike tyres, text you when there’s a good special on at the IGA, help plant a fruitful garden, look out for us when there’s been a break in, accept deliveries when we aren’t home, invite us over for dinner, have a party on the roof, give you a lift in the GoGet car, drop hot soups at the door when you’ve just had a baby, even go away for weekends together - and most amazingly put us in a position to stop renting, own a home and have a baby!
3.5 years ago, Jason and I didn’t even consider we’d ever have enough money to purchase a home that we actually wanted to live in. The traditional great Australian Dream was just not on the cards for us. It wasn’t until we started renting at The Commons that our dream became to own something just like it. Jason and I work in the city - Jason, a graphic designer and I in the arts. We don’t hold drivers licenses and travel a lot. So a house with a double garage and a backyard to upkeep was not actually our dream. An apartment, in walking distance to literally anything you might need was all we wanted. But mostly the poor quality and size of apartments in the inner city made buying anything within our price range totally undesirable. When we learnt of the philosophy behind The Commons - a building designed completely with the end user in mind, and not a developer to make a buck, to make buying a property actually affordable and liveable, we said to Jeremy at Breathe - if you ever do another building like The Commons, please tell us, we’d love to be part of it. And that’s when we heard about Nightingale.
We could not be more thrilled to be lucky enough to purchase an apartment in Nightingale 1.0 in Brunswick. We are so happy that we will never have to move away from the community we have grown to love so much. After having some security about our future home we decided to have a baby. Little Henrietta is 10 weeks old now and while Nightingale 1.0 is still two months away from completion, she already knows her neighbours. I find it pretty amazing that everyone in Nightingale 1.0 already knows each other and we don’t even live there yet. There is a Facebook group and we’re already discussing a celebration on the roof and what to do for New Year’s Eve together. Since signing the contracts, there have been a few babies born that will be moving into Nightingale. So much so, the Architect has changed the landscape design of the roof to include sandpits and kid friendly spaces. I don’t know any developers that would understand their purchasers so well as to put time in to adapt their design to suit the way the residents are going to live.
As a woman living in Brunswick, now with a young daughter, I am pleased to feel safe when I am at home at The Commons and soon to be Nightingale. I’m happy in the knowledge that my daughter is going to grow up with real friends in her building and that she can get involved in community activities like planting trees along the train line. I’m looking forward to teaching her to respect the community she lives in. I’m happy she will walk or ride her bike everywhere keeping her healthy and happy. I’m thrilled we can afford a home where she can have a good sized bedroom with natural light, that’s warm for her in winter and cool for her in summer and that isn’t going to fall apart by her third birthday. I’m happy knowing we will live there forever." Kate.