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Volcanic inspiration: Habitus townhouses

April 14th, 2020

The unique site history of the Habitus townhouses in South Melbourne provided the inspiration for an interior featuring a robust palette of natural stone, warm timber and black metal detailing.

When Melbourne-based design practice DKO began the design journey for the Habitus townhouses they first looked to the history of the site. Situated in South Melbourne, the collection of these four-storey houses sits atop the volcanic soil of the area and stands where Victorian terraces houses of the past once stood.

Following extensive research into the historical context of the place, DKO took a contextual and holistic approach to both the exterior and interior architecture and design as Simone Tyson, associate at DKO, explains.

 Habitus apartments

“The soil inspired the use of volcanic looking monolithic stone slabs throughout,” she says. “We chose natural and tactile materials such as stones and timbers coupled with brushed gun metal, which link historically to the site’s volcanic origin and Victorian terrace houses of the past.

“Part of the client’s brief was to provide a point of difference to surrounding town homes, so this was an opportunity for us to push design boundaries with monumental stone benchtops, layered joinery and floor to ceiling tinted mirrored walls.”

Ciel apartments

The exterior of the buildings feature crowning sawtooth forms that are tempered with brass, steel and glass materials, creating light-filled spaces for contemporary living. Inside, the vertically planned residences are anchored by a spine of stairs threaded up through the interior. 

Each of the 27 residences come with a home-office and garage level on the ground floor, a living space on the next level, with the remaining two floors encompassing a bathroom, bedrooms and the potential for an additional living space. A rooftop outdoor area tops them off.

Ciel apartments

To allow natural light to filter into the houses but maintain privacy, DKO designed fluted glass planes, which adds to Habitus’ strong façade.

“Due to site restraints there were some overlooking issues, but we were able to design an elegant solution using fluted glazing to provide residents with complete privacy, while not compromising on transmission of natural light,” says Tyson.

When it came to selecting the tapware and showers, DKO opted for a range of Phoenix collections including Alia, Gloss and Lexi, with Alia becoming “a statement piece in our bathrooms”. 

“We were still looking for something different [for the bathrooms] but were having trouble finding anything,” explains Tyson. “As soon as we saw the Alia collection, we knew it was what we had been looking for in this design – it had the right mix of subtle curves and a strong body.

“It was a really striking tapware design that no one else had on the market so it fit perfectly with our design, especially the brushed gun metal which linked back to the volcanic soil tones.”

Explore the Alia range here.

Interior Design: DKO
Architect: DKO
Developer: Beulah International
Product: Alia Wall Basin/Bath Outlet, Alia Wall Top Assemblies, Gloss Accessories and Lexi Hand Shower