Melbourne suburb Essendon’s most significant multi-residential projects, Alexa, is now complete and injects a bold, gold-rush era inspired contemporary aesthetic to the surrounding streetscape.
Designed by award-winning architecture practice ClarkeHopkinsClarke for developers Accord Property Group, the project is defined by smooth flowing forms, offering a high level of design that is distinct against Essendon’s established Edwardian and Art Deco character.
Alexa is located on Mt. Alexander Road, a wide boulevard style street lined by established palm trees running both sides of a central tramline. To the rear of the site is a large public park with green open space, a playground and endemic trees selected to attract native bird life.
Featuring 89 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, over seven levels, including two luxurious penthouses, Alexa’s elevated position achieves spectacular views to the city from south and east facing apartments and south, east and west facing terraces.
The seventh floor, additional to the predominating building heights was secured through a clever design strategy which sees two large penthouse apartments set back from the building envelope and almost disappears from sight at street level.
Its most pronounced and striking feature, the gold coloured metal screen, takes inspiration from the site’s connection to Melbourne’s gold rush era as the screening wraps the sixth level, forming a visual ‘top’ to the building.
ClarkeHopkinsClarke partner Toby Lauchlan says history and geology have shaped Alexa’s distinctive architecture.
“Mount Alexander Road was originally a route to the gold fields and, as the Alexa site is on top of a hill, our design response is about stratification and the layering of rock, which we referenced with the building’s gold coloured screening,” Lauchlan says.
“The perforated metal has a distinct quality in that it changes its tone depending on the sunlight. This contrasts with the sculptural massing of the other elements.”
The first five levels are defined by long, white, sculptural bands, tying the design to the movement of the street, while the building’s curved forms work to soften the mass of the development. The design capitalises on the site’s park side location, with a rear entrance providing residents with direct access to Cliff Allison Park. A café on the ground floor opens up the development to Essendon residents.
ClarkeHopkinsClarke has skilfully designed the building’s curved shapes, and its generous balconies, to create playful and differing lines of perspective. On the top floor, the two penthouses capture impressive 360-degree views, while apartments at the park-end of the complex enjoy open views to the south-east.
Contemporary, minimalist interiors complement the playful finishes of the exterior. Attention to detail prevails internally, with an emphasis on quality joinery and storage space. Light oak was used for the timber flooring, while fixtures were finished in a metallic gold that calls out to the perforated gold metal exterior feature.
“The interiors are contemporary and understated. We wanted to provide a neutral canvas that would allow buyers to make their own mark through the addition of artworks or interior decoration,” Lauchlan says.
“Within this minimalist palette we put a lot of effort into the detailing and joinery. Providing plenty of well-designed storage as well as ample desk spaces was an important point of difference both for us and the developers.”