- Architects: SJB
- Location: 41 Birmingham St, Alexandria NSW 2015, Australia
- Lead Architect: Adam Haddow
- Project Team: Alicia Boh, Jacqueline Connor, Kirsten Stanisich (Interior Designer)
- Area: 1342.0 m2
- Project Year: 2016
- Photographs: Felix Forest, Brett Boardman
- Builder: Gordon Constructions, Matt Gordon
- Landscape Consultant: William Dangar, Blackbeetle
- Structural Consultant: United Consulting Engineers
Text description provided by the architects. 41 Birmingham aimed to deliver an affordable high-quality residential apartment project into the fine-grained, post-industrial suburb of Alexandria, south of Sydney. The client’s ambitions for this project were for an exemplary residential apartment project with an attention to detail comparable to a single bespoke dwelling, albeit within a multi-residential budget and construction program. The building references the historical thread of Alexandria’s context while focusing on the future occupiers, to create a sense of place and comfort.
As the first building delivered within a recently rezoned precinct, the challenge was to deliver a perimeter infill building prior to the presence of any surrounding buildings to infill between. The intent was to ensure that the project relied only on itself, not borrowing from surrounding land, in regards to aspect, outlook or sun access. The building comprises 23 one, two and three bedroom apartments over five levels. All dwellings are northern orientated and each achieves cross ventilation. The 4 rooftop apartments each have access to private roof gardens, complete with spas, barbecues and significant landscaping.
The residential lobby is announced at street level with a curved wall, tiled with a rich handmade marine blue ceramic. Planning of the building is arranged around a central lift and two open staircases. This arrangement encourages the use of stairs as often as possible. At first glance the rear loaded access balcony may appear a compromise to the privacy of dwellings, but in reality, the careful architectural manipulation of the southern façade and the limited number of dwellings deliver a delightful experience which encourages resident interaction, maintains privacy and amenity and ensures 100% cross ventilation. The exterior material palette of the building is robust and nuanced.
The off-form concrete up-stands provide privacy and protection to the dwellings complemented with painted timber ‘blinkers’ to the lower levels, while externally the layered and poured effect of the concrete speaks to the individual crafting of the building. From the street the pedestrian is engaged in the interiors of the dwellings through the articulation of the ribbed concrete ceilings, at once integrating the buildings structural solution while dispensing of our evil enemy – plasterboard! As the building rises, the balconies subtly step towards the street, creating a concave overhang to the ground level retail while concurrently disguising the two top levels of the building.
These upper levels, detailed in steel, are lighter and more playful, with full height glazing and palisade balustrades opening up to take advantage of distant city views. We are perhaps most proud of two elements of this project. The first being the interiors – which we think stand apart from the barrage of ‘one size fits all’ plasterboard clad multi-unit residential product on the market. And secondly, the site-specific commissioned artwork within the lobby – a poem by Emily Daves, which aims to touch the soul of every future inhabitant of the building. We are passionate about delivering unique and affordable open market multiple housing that is nuanced, personal and delightful.