Lively front not just a facade

by Philip Hopkins
October 13, 2010

ST KILDA enjoys a reputation for style and innovation, qualities that developers the Buxton Group and their chosen architects were keen to tap into with a new boutique apartment block in the area.

The suburb’s celebrated fun playground was also on their minds with the project’s name: Luna. The brief Buxton gave the architects, Elenberg Fraser, was to reflect the living habits of St Kilda’s people. ‘‘During the day it’s stylish and fashionable while at night it comes alive,’’ said Buxton Property managing director Richard Buxton.

The upshot was Luna, which will turn the drab former Vasiliki Crayfish shop and neighbouring hardware store on Barkly Street into a $40 million development. It will have 76 one and two-bedroom apartments, which will be marketed by John Meagher, director of 360 Property Group.

Elenberg Fraser tapped into the Buxton brief with an innovation that has been dubbed a ‘‘living’’ facade. Most apartments will have an openable translucent shutter — or veil—that exposes its balcony. That means the full facade of the building will constantly change with the living habits of its occupants and the seasons.

The design innovation offered by the shutter veil — or ‘‘living’’ facade — allows the apartments to bring the balcony space into the overall living environment, or open it up and treat it as a normal balcony.

This feature follows research showing that many apartment owners simply don’t use their balconies, especially outside summer.

Luna St Kilda is also designed to change its mood like the moon, as the name suggests. During the day it will reflect the sun with its striking gold metallic facade and at night it will come alive with batons of light shining through its exterior veil.

The batons of light visible at night behind the golden metal moving facade were inspired by the laser sabres featured in the Star Wars movies.

The project marks a new stage in the life of Mr Buxton; after 40 years as a builder, he will become purely a developer. When the site became available, he ‘‘jumped at the chance to buy it’’, he said. ‘‘The vision of Luna St Kilda has come together very quickly. One of the most exciting aspects of the building is the design.’’

Mr Meagher said the project offered a life close to St Kilda beach in a building architecturally designed to a standard rarely seen before in Melbourne. ‘‘The golden mesh facade makes it particularly striking,’’ he said.

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