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The Northern Hood

Part 2 Project 2014
David Isaacs
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology | Australia
With living room space in decline in inner-urban environments, this project suggests how to future proof a town’s character while supporting densification.

Sited in Northcote, a suburb 7 kms from Melbourne, this project does three things: it rescales the idea of the household living room to the scale of the urban environment; it consolidates existing site relationships to give Northcote a city centre; and it amplifies the character, culture and vibrancy of Northcote's High Street.

The majority of Northcote’s residents will soon live in apartments, with little access to outdoor living space. A rescaled living room gives people more space to live in, while a character preserving agenda ensures the architecture reflects and enhances vibrant and eclectic streetscapes.

At an urban scale, the project negotiates each of the context relationships through a broad-brush approach. This assists in the legibility of the proposal from key vantage points such as the Northcote theatre, the intersection of High and Separation Streets, and the library, mall and carpark. This reflects my study of the street where buildings such as the Bulgarian church, the town hall, theatre, Uniting church and Chemist Warehouse each have different scale relationships and visible legibility in architectural form.

The project explores the idea of threshold by understanding these large urban gestures as an architectural envelope and container for activity. A detailed understanding of the articulate edges of street interior with parapets, elevation profile, cornicing, plaster moldings and verandahs inspired me to furnish exterior public space and create tactile living space around the edges of the buildings. Form has been achieved through negotiating site relationships and by pushing and pulling the programs against interior courtyard public spaces that weave between them.

Northcote's character and identity is enriched with a "public living room" that extends the local residences and takes on the identity of the town. Idiosyncratic local details and forgotten memories are rescaled and redeployed to create a rich and vivid spatial conditions that meet the needs of growing communities within Northcote.

David Isaacs


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