Merri Green by Chamberlain Architects

“A fascination with light, space and material is woven through every project. We explore the possibilities of light and materials to enhance that experience.”  - Chamberlain Architects

What happens when a local developer commissions a local architect to create a design that would fit comfortably in a uniquely local location? Merri Green Northcote happens.  This month we spoke to the team at Chamberlain Architects about this Melbourne development and how this team came to collaborate together.

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The story goes that Developer, Ray Collodetti, from Codstream, a long term local advocate for this Merri Creek location, and Architect Glen Chamberlain, met through the local community. Ray felt that Glen and the team were the best fit for this project because there was a joint commitment to delivering a high quality project that enhanced this rare and unique setting.

With a brief to adhere to “local context, community values and sustainability” Chamberlain set to work conceiving the multi-residential development in Northcote, comprising 20 three-level townhouses and an adjoining complex of 29 apartments, wrapping around an irregular shaped piazza. The development was driven by a desire to create a benchmark for more sustainable multi-res developments.  Indeed when Merri Green was conceived and designed, it was one of the first multi-res developments that introduced Tesla batteries as well as solar panels to store energy in the townhouses. Rainwater tanks collect stormwater for reuse in toilets and landscape irrigation. Additionally rainwater was also filtered through the paving and diverted into the seven rain gardens which naturally filter the water and remove pollutants before releasing it into the stormwater system.

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Even from the outside, without seeing the development’s sustainability credentials listed out, it’s still clear that the design was created to work with, not against the natural environment. The buildings, which includes locally sourced recycled bricks, are ‘wrapped’ in screens of spotted gum, which both provides privacy and blends visually into the stands of eucalypts running along the Creek corridor.

The project is one of the few multi residential projects in Australia conceived as a collection of “small format forever homes” where each home has been designed to provide the type of amenity, and spatial consideration typically seen in bespoke single housing.

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When it came to window furnishings the Chamberlain team worked closely with Lovelight to ensure a complimentary fabric choice that would still allow light to filter though, while providing a degree of privacy screening from the golf course. “It was important that the fabric finish complemented the organic Australian materials used in the interiors. Many samples were viewed until we landed on our final selection, James Dunlop - Antipodes in Cloud. We also needed a fabric with an extra long drop to cater to the high ceilings and avoid seams. We were thrilled with the result.”

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All said and done, when we asked the team what they appreciated most about the completed development they told us that they “love the filtered lightplay that comes about from the light shining through the spotted gum screens. We love the connection to nature via the beautiful outdoor views of Merri Creek and Northcote Golf Course through the full height windows. The light dances through the curtains and changes throughout the day.”

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Images by Derek Swallwell


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