Ambient Apartments

Ambient is the smallest building in its Keppel Street apartment complex. It is part of a significant inner-Melbourne multi-residential development undertaken by the Living Carlton Consortium.

Ambient, surrounded by a series of leafy courtyard gardens, started as a site with no prominent street address. It seemed destined to be one of several buildings vying for architectural expression. Its form demanded a unifying façade pattern, so we have used glazed black tiles cast into the concrete facade panels. Like mosaic street art, these tiles are the pixels that form a supergraphic fragment of a piece of graffiti. If you view it from Cardigan or Keppel Street, the graphic has the same kind of dynamism as calligraphy and pop art. It gives interest and shape to the building’s form and makes it look grander. Close up, you simply see pixels with fine variations in texture and glossiness.

The archetypal Carlton building is a terrace house with a recessed balcony, elaborate ornamental metalwork and classical details. A part of this archetype that’s usually ignored is the strong blank party wall (wall on a boundary). It is a canvas for all kinds of signage, art or architecture. At Ambient, the three arched doorways on the party wall are a nod to the street frontage of the Carlton icon Jimmy Watson’s Wine Bar. The windows, punched into the façade, are a range of sizes and aspect ratios that reference the windows in historic buildings around the neighbourhood.

The building has four levels containing 20 studios, one- and two-bedroom dwellings.

The Living Carlton Consortium incorporates Australand, St Hilliers/Hacer and the Citta Property Group, in conjunction with the State Government of Victoria Office of Housing.