81 Foveaux StreetSurry Hills NSW Australia
Located in the heart of Surry Hills on the former site of Legion Cab headquarters, 81 Foveaux Street provides affordable and connected apartment living in one of the world’s most expensive cities – an alternative to our disconnected suburbs. Comprised of 53 apartments ranging from studios to 3 bedrooms with large retail tenancies across the Foveaux Street frontage, the dense urban context and strict pattern of surrounding built fabric required creative planning to achieve a high level of amenity for residents.
As an urban infill project replacing a former light industrial use, the project stitches together built fabric which cascades down the steep incline of the street. Set amongst a rabble of existing buildings crossing many stylistic periods, the surrounding built form context is of predominantly masonry buildings with punched window openings. The building works the oblique angle and natural geography of the street to present a solid built form when seen on approach from the public domain, with the façade opening at closer angle to deliver dwellings that capture northern orientation and city views.
Organised around a central lightwell, deep cuts through the building deliver natural light and ventilation to the front door of every dwelling. These open-air lobbies help connect the residents by celebrating the everyday, creating a deep threshold between the public and private realm. Concurrently this strategy reduces the internal area of the building, delivering development efficiency while reducing internal conditioned space. The lightwell also acts as the vertical transition in the building, allowing it to step down the street, ensuring a building that responds both vertically and horizontally to geography.
With a variety of apartment types, the dwellings are oriented to the streets, and in accepting that not every home could achieve the ideal northern orientation, communal rooftops are provided for residents. At street level a continuous street awning provides protection for the passing pedestrian as well as space for outdoor dining. To the underside, an integrated art piece by Mika Utzon Popov articulates the night – continuing a tradition of privately funded public artworks prevalent in the street.
Apartment planning is simple and efficient, with no lazy spaces and straightforward planning principles ensuring that light and ventilation are the key to happy living. The interiors, by BKH, acknowledge that a paired back palette is best suited to accommodating the variety of lives that will exist here over time.
This building contributes to an architectural sense of place – aiming to be quiet, confident and timeless. This is about contributing to a dialogue about what an urban Australian city is. As a country we are confident in our rural housing identity, less so about our urban ones – we hope we are contributing to this thought.