Article by Poppy Johnston | 14 November 2019
Melbourne-based developer Lucent is branching out and taking its sustainable brand of apartments to the growing owner-occupier family and downsizer market in Brighton, 12 kilometres south east of the CBD
The company, which is responsible for Nightingale and Little Miller apartment projects in Brunswick East that are nearing completion, has also been busy on a new project in the heartland of sustainable living in Melbourne’s Brunswick East called the Stewart Collective.
Here, says development director Sophie Whittakers, sustainability is “almost expected now.”
In Brighton, the company is branching into territory where sustainability might still be a novel idea.
In fact, the Slate House will be the suburb’s first fossil fuel free apartments.
Designed by Austin Maynard Architects. It will consist of eight two-bedroom and six three-bedroom residences, ranging from 90–200 square metres in size, over three levels. The development has just been granted development approval.
The developers have managed a NatHERS rating of 7.8, and other sustainability features include an embedded network, high-efficiency appliances and rainwater harvesting.
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Brighton is “its own little hub,” Whittakers says, and jokes that its residents are often reluctant to leave even just for the day.
It’s a downsizing market where people are looking to sell a larger family home and move into something smaller with less maintenance and hassle.
Unlike Brunswick, where the sustainability message has definitely sunk in, Whittakers suspects at Brighton there will be an educational element for prospective buyers.
The typical buyer in the area is not hugely interested in the financial benefits of low energy bills, but would likely see it as a bonus, she says. But privacy is something that worries this cohort, which becomes a selling point because a thermally efficient building fabric also has good acoustic performance.
Whittakers also hopes that the downsizer market might be influenced by their children, who are likely to be more invested in the environment and climate.
The plan is to communicate directly with potential buyers. “If you put a face behind the developer, they know they are dealing with real people.”
With only 14 apartments, Whittakers expects the community to thrive organically. She says that complexes of 40 apartments and above make it difficult for people to interact.
Slate House will be in walking distance from the Church Street retail precinct, as well as local schools, transport and parks.
The Stewart Collective in Brunswick East
Whittakers says her team is always on the lookout for innovative sustainability elements to include, which is why there’s a shared solar system on the roof of its new Stewart Collective apartment complex in Brunswick East.
Around 20 per cent of residences will have access to Allume Energy’s 18kW SOLSHARE system, which is capable of producing 23,000 kWh of energy each year and cutting 26 tonnes of CO2. Households can expect to see a $360 per year saving in energy bills.
Lucent managing director Panos Miltiadou says that apartment owners are now able to enjoy renewable energy.
“As apartment living has become a more common housing typology, we believe there shouldn’t be the need to compromise on alternative energy options traditionally available to owners of single residences only,” he says.
“We are hoping this project can play a part in closing the gap between the difference in sustainability offerings available to inner-north residents in multi and single-residential homes.”
The mixed-use development is designed by ClarkeHopkinsClarke with interiors by Austin Maynard Architects, and will have 69 apartments across six levels, including a range of two-level lofts. There will also be a 104 square metres office space and 315 square metres of retail.
Like the Brighton development, the Brunswick East precinct will be fossil fuel free and comes with a 7.5 star NatHERS rating, rainwater reuse and electric car charging stations.
Located near sustainability centre CERES and off a main arterial road, Whittakers says the developers have gone for a “community integrated neighbourhood feel” – complete with a central garden for growing food and a clever communal library that stretches over three levels.
She says the design will encourage social connection but points out that “you can’t force community on people”.
“We can only do what we can from a building and spatial perspective to drive behaviour, residents and neighbours will still do as they wish to.
“What we are trying to do is create really nice communal spaces so people will want to interact.”
She says the library will be a great spot where people “can’t avoid interacting” when they drop by to swap a book, or send their kids down to play.
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