The Saint George Collective: Northcote joint venture – the finished product


Units 1-4/2 McCracken Avenue Northcote, Victoria



Design Team: Dan Demant, Tim Riley & The Saint George Collective

Documentation Architects: Loop 8

Location: Cnr of St Georges Rd & McCracken Avenue, Northcote, Victoria

Land Area: 486 m2

Building Area: 460 m2

Year: 2013

Photographs: Courtesy of Scottie Cameron

Construction: Freddi & Co Constructions

This four townhouse joint venture development project at 1-4 McCracken Avenue Northcote was the result of four partners working together in a joint venture partnership. The objective of the group was to create a development with architectural and environmental integrity that we could all be proud of and that created real financial and social capital for the members of the collective.

The four partners each shared 25% of the costs and ended up with a townhouse each at the end of the project which took thirty three months. The property was secured in September 2010, permits were approved in August 2011, construction commenced in May 2012 and concluded in June 2013.

The north facing corner site with rear access via a lane way offered many opportunities for the design. We wanted all the units to maximise this north light access and take advantage of elevated city views to the south. One of the main challenges was the narrowness of the block. At only 12.8 metres in depth it resulted in small ground floor footprints of approximately 48 square metres. The three units to the rear have living and dining areas on the first level utilising deck areas for private open space and maximising cross flow ventilation. The front unit took advantage of the garden area to St Georges Rd with its living and dining areas on the ground. All units are three-bedrooms with en suite and main bathrooms.

Rather than dominating the streetscape with extra crossovers and garages, the parking area was hidden at the top of the site off the rear laneway. This provides a strong pedestrian presence to the front addresses of the development. This human scale is reinforced with the tactile materiality of the recycled brick that was used to match the front brick fence of the original building on St Georges Rd.

The form of the building is a simple extrusion of the ground. The overall form is articulated by deep deck areas, steel structural posts and varying colour treatment to the cladding. This was done in an attempt to give each unit a strong individual identity whilst being clearly part of a whole.

The primary cladding material is painted fibre cement sheet which acts as a durable low maintenance backdrop to the screening of the slatted timber balustrades. The silvertop ash battens add an extra layer of detail and materiality across the building and soften its mass.

Internally, a simple palette of durable materials was used. Non VOC paints were used throughout. There is central hoop-pine clad wall through each stairwell dotted with black formply slots acting to break up the mass. Kitchens are also in hoop pine with charcoal laminate benchtops and varying gloss and matt white tile break ups.

The concrete floor slabs remain exposed with a clear seal finish. The upper level floors are made up of large sheets of spotted gum hardwood ply with exposed jointing finished with a clear seal that enhances the patterning of the timber. 

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