The project responds to and reconciles 4 dynamically different street frontages with the formation of a protected courtyard at the heart of the scheme. To the east, Bourke Street provides an urban pedestrian street address, to the north and south truncated lanes facilitate service entry and egress, whilst to the west the 50 metre Eastern Distributor frontage, with over 20 million cars annually, required a resolute architectural response.
Project Name: Bourke St Apartments
Studio Name: McGregor Westlake Architecture
Location: Wooloomooloo, Australia
Photography: Brett Boardman
Completion date: 2016
Two dramatically contrasting buildings, each responding to their respective frontages, together form the protected courtyard. Most of the bedrooms and living areas overlook this courtyard, whilst a few also or exclusively overlook Bourke street.
The smaller Bourke Street building containing 7 apartments, responds to the fine grain of it’s immediate neighbours and retains the existing 1920’s garage facade. Within the historic brickwork envelope, a retail space continues the historic activation to the street. Above and behind this façade, the built form is tempered and stepped to pick up the alignments of the neighbouring terraces and to allow for residents to overlook the street.
The pedestrian entry through the existing garage opening takes residents through the Bourke Street fabric to the protected courtyard. Here the 50 metre long ED building is like a machine, forming a defensive wall westwards to the ED whilst opening out eastwards to the courtyard.
The ED facade stands at the interface between intimate domestic space and metropolitan scaled infrastructure. The facade, incorporating equally dimensioned windows and Polychrome Panels, reconciles this polarising scale. Window placement, dictated by plan and section in kitchens, studies and circulation is overlaid by a giant, Lego-like, super graphic, that creates a positive public interface at the broad scale and speed of the motorway and city.
14 of the 24 apartments within this building comprise 2 + 3 level maisonette types. The lower 6 of these are entered through their courtyards to their living areas with bedrooms overlooking above. The upper 8 are entered from a circulation spine overlooking the motorway.
Entering this time on bedroom level a stair connects up to the living area, up a landing to the kitchen and up another level to the roof terrace. To the south flat floor apartments step wider in plan to capture north light and views, whilst further protecting the courtyard from the noise of the railway viaduct behind.