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No Two The Same – Six Urban Residences in Richmond by Melbourne Design Studios

Melbourne Design Studios designed these six stunning urban residences located in Melbourne, Australia, in 2017. Take a look at the complete story after the jump.

Project Overview

Located in an historic and tightly-held pocket of inner-city Melbourne, this multi-award-winning boutique development features six bespoke urban residences, along with the transformation of a derelict Victorian heritage dwelling also located on site. The development balances a heritage setting with contemporary sustainable design, redefining typical urban townhouse design to hero connection with the landscape and surrounds, and to feature intriguing details.


The project has been the winner of the 2017 ArchiTeam Sustainability Medal, the BDAV 10 Star Challenge , as well as a Finalists in the 2017 Sustainability Awards.


Client Brief

Going beyond the typical multi-residential brief, the developers also wanted to make a positive contribution to the neighbourhood, by providing luxe residences with a sense of individuality that sensitively respond to their urban and heritage surrounds. High-level ESD (environmentally sustainable design) principles and design for longevity were key drivers of the brief, up to the point where the project was in part designed to a 10 Star Energy rating , winning the BDAV 10 Star Challenge, before going through some Value Management Exercises. However, all up a briefing that reminded us of our individual residences much more than of a townhouse development…

Design Challenges

A difficult site featuring an unusual battle-axe shape and heritage overlay, complete with a derelict heritage house requiring extensive renovation. The tight setting required a design that would respond appropriately to its unique inner-city location and built-up surrounds. The highly contextual design reflects not only the former shoe factory opposite and industrial past, but pays homage to the iconic Victorian terrace row houses nearby. The narrow laneway itself presented a challenging streetscape. Rather than being tucked away behind the heritage house at the front of the site, the design and scale of the development successfully sits within the street, its neighbouring buildings and wider surrounds.

Project Innovation, or ‘the buzz we like to create’

Set opposite a converted shoe factory, the design reflects the craftspersonship associated with the area’s industrial past. The individualised facades, row-like form, choice of materials and scale are a clever response to site. A lasercut artwork with hidden motifs representing typical aspects of the local area – e.g. an abstract Vespa scooter on one , or Marilyn Monroe’s face on another – appear only on closer inspection and in the right light. The overall design beautifully complements the shoe factory, helping the residences become part of the urban fabric and sit comfortably within the typical proportions and heights of the area.

Design Response

Marking a significant departure from conventional townhouse typology, each dwelling offers multi-functional and spacious living in an otherwise tightly built-up urban area. Boasting a rare combination of light-filled internal spaces gathered around multiple outdoor spaces and rooftop terrace with city skyline views, each townhouse has over 20% more outdoor space than a typical solution, with the six different outdoor spaces designed for various activities and purposes. The sustainable brief and inspiration for the 10 star NatHERS rating provided the opportunity for innovative solutions and departures from the standard townhouse architecture. The drive for natural light and ventilation led to the design of an internal courtyard which provides a further solution to the challenges of providing quality private open space in small urban sites.


Each townhouse has north facing orientation to draw in natural light throughout the homes, “thermal chimneys” to evacuate heat through summer, and cross ventilation for fresh air year-round. Passive design systems (when applied correctly) ensure that the same benefits they provide today last throughout the life of the building.

The sustainable features include the use of natural, recycled and sustainable materials, many of them with supply chain certifications, thermally broken windows with double glazing, extra insulation, solar hot water, rainwater tanks and many more

Photography by Peter Clarke

Find more projects by Melbourne Design Studios: 

Step House by Bureau de Change Architects

Chonburi Sila House by Anghin Architecture