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Sustainable development practices and a range of energy-efficient fittings put the green into this eco-friendly apartment building


Urban development, like technological progress, is inevitable. Accommodating a city's growing population in a sustainable way requires coherent town planning that incorporates provision for both current and future needs.

At a local and national level, responsible developers play a part in ensuring projects are sustainable in the long term. With increasing opportunities to rejuvenate run down inner-city sites – often in semi- industrial areas that have been slowly gentrified over the years – architects and property developers can go a step further than simply rebuilding.

The city-fringe, seven-storey Abito apartment building, nestled among turn-of-the-century factories and period villas, was designed with more than a nod toward a green philosophy, says the project's developer, Hamton joint managing director Steve Buxton.

"We wanted to do more than adhere to quality standards with the Abito project. By implementing sustainable development practices, we can increase longevity while reducing energy usage."

Project architects Jackson Clements Burrows (JCB) included a range of environmental features designed to improve energy efficiency throughout the 35 apartments and utility areas.


A cross-ventilation system incorporates breezeway louvres, which monitor airflow to heat and cool the building. Cold southerly winds become trapped in the internal courtyard and air becomes warmer as it is pushed up and out at roof level.

Conversely, the balcony fronts deflect hot northerly winds in summer, preventing the air from becoming trapped in the apartment living areas.

In winter, north-facing windows attract the sun, while the use of south-facing windows has been minimised to reduce the need for heating and cooling. The inclusion of energy-efficient light fittings, with low-voltage downlights and sensor controls, helps ensure lights are used less frequently and use less power when they are on.

Reducing water wastage was another design priority for JCB. Each of the 35 apartments is fitted with AAA water- efficient shower heads that reduce water use by 50%. Water-efficient tap fittings are used throughout the building to achieve an estimated saving of 20,000 litres per year.

A rainwater tank in the building's grounds ensures the landscaped areas are taken care of in summer.

Construction materials with proven insulation and acoustic properties were chosen to reduce noise between apartments. The timber used was sourced only from areas not threatening to native virgin forests or rainforests.

Red lime wash in various tones is used on the exterior, reflecting the semi-industrial nature of the neighbourhood. The lime wash will weather organically in the rain over the years.

The balcony fronts are constructed from high-tech webglass, providing a inviting glow at night, illuminating as the sun goes down.

Apartment interiors are designed with strong use of natural materials and colours, creating a relaxing ambience that juxtaposes the bright tones used in the communal areas.

Pale timber kitchen cabinets, and neutral shades used in the floor tiles, carpeting and walls allow residents endless scope for personalising their own space with colour.

Each apartment has views over varying aspects of the city – from mountains to an eclectic urban roofscape. Recessed decks integrate with the living areas and, protected from the elements, create outdoor rooms.

Sustainable development isn't difficult, Buxton says, and while marginally more expensive, the ultimate saving will be felt for years to come.

First published date: 24 May 2007

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Credit List

Architect Jackson Clements Burrows (Melbourne)
Developer Hamton Pty Ltd
Interior designer Jackson Clements Burrows
Interior furnishings Blend Design; Domayne Design
Builder Hickory
Kitchen designer JPC Kitchens
Kitchen manufacturer JPC Kitchens
Kitchen benchtop Quantum Quartz
Oven and cooktop Blanco
Tile flooring Baron Forge
Wall coverings Dulux
Heating and cooling Mitsubishi air conditioners
Joinery Australian Aluminium
Balcony glass Webglass