Bold Architecture meets Beach Location in Buxton's New Residential Development, Luna St Kilda Spring 2011.

Melbourne's seaside playground of St Kilda is well known for attracting creative and fashionable types, mostly thanks to its harmonious balance of grunge and glamour. Its bold and quirky mix of architecture ranges from Art Deco treasures to council flats, and provides and apt background for both its seedy and gentrified sides. So when developer Buxton Group purchased the site of an old lobster shop and hardware store, the aim was to produce a residential apartment block with a 'wow' factor worthy of such an eclectic suburb.

"We wanted to create something that would be quite iconic for St Kilda", says Samantha Buxton of Melbourne's well-known property clan. "We really wanted to make a 'wow we're in St Kilda' kind of statement".

Call forth Callum Fraser of award winning architects Elenberg Fraser. The firm is renowned for its bold shapes and innovative facades and Fraswer, with his sense of fun and whimsy, was a natural choice to design a residential building that captured the essence of St Kilda.

Unlike its theme park namesake, the Luna development is named after the moon and the building has been designed to alter its look and mood, replicating the moon's changing phases.

One of the ways Luna achieves its changing face is via the adjustable, translucent shutters of each apartment, which enable residents to expose or enclose their balconcies. The effect is such that in daylight the building will reflect the sun by way of a stunning gold mesh facade, and at night, the batons of external lighting will illuminate it.

This 'living' frontage is a bold and inspirational response to the developer's brief for the building to reflect the daily mood of St Kilda.

"We wanted it to live and breathe like you do in St Kilda", says Buxton. "That's a bit slow in the morning, starting to come together a bit more in the afternoon, and then at night time just really going for it", she explains.

Naturally the shutters are also entirely practical in terms of protecting residents from the cold winds coming off Port Phillip Bay, and also giving them control over their level of interaction with the street and the bustling vibe of St Kilda below.

"Luna was the answer to the ongoing conundrum of apartment life - how do you retain privacy, keep your lights on and still enjoy the view", says Fraser, who drew his inspiration for the exterior from the iconic Star Wars films, specifically from Princess Leia's infamous dancing girl bikini, featured in Star Wars, Episode VU: Return of the Jedi.

In both the film and the building, its all about perception. Leia overcomes the indignation and humiliation of being enslaved as Jabba the Hutt's dancing girl through her inner strength. Similarly, Luna does not just rely on its pretty face for its success; its core structure is also vital.

"The metallic skin seems almost intangible, hovering between reality and fantasy", and that, says Fraser, is meant to reflect the tension between introversion and extroversion.

Inside the apartments, Fraser implemented one-way mirrored pivot doors to answer the client's brief to open up the one-bedroom apartments and create a bigger sense of space. The resulting ability to expand or to create privacy in the living area and bedroom also echoes the exterior's flexibility.

Interior features include clever storage alcoves and considered choice of finishes, such as Serpentine stone for the kitchen bench tops, splash backs and bathroom vanities. Smeg appliances are standard and while upgrade options such as floorboards were on offer, the developer dictated that the cheaper apartments were not to be fitted with low-grade finishes, as is often the case with similar properties.

Situated on the corner of Barkly and Belford Street, Buxton wanted to effectively extend the lively nature of the Acland Street leisure precinct with the Luna development.

The five-storey building houses 72 one and two bedroom apartments and a ground floor retail complex that includes 120-seat restaurant in the building's prominent nose.

The Buxton Group, having offloaded its construction arm in recent years, is now embracing its role as a pure developer and this project reflects the smaller, boutique focus.

Proof that this bold architectural statement appeals to the market is demonstrated by the fact that two thirds of the apartments were snapped up in the first eight weeks, with 90% being sold off the plan.

Investors purchased the apartments that range from $340,000 to $699,000 with many keen on capitalising on the location that is perfectly suited to short-term residential lets.

Due for completion by July 2012, Luna looks set to join the inventory of St Kilda's prominent landmarks and add to its sense of fun exactly one century after its theme park namesake.

LUNA, 173-177 Barkly Street St Kilda Vic,