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An Icon Complete

Urban Melbourne, Laurence Dragomir - Published September 2015

Pace Development Group's The Icon (6 St Kilda Road, St Kilda) celebrated its completion with an event on the level 5 residents lounge. The avant-garde Jackson Clements Burrows-designed building in collaboration with local artist Matthew Johnson spans 17 floors, accommodating 119 apartments and featuring a unique expanded mesh screen façade comprising 40 different colours.

The building is conceived as "an assemblage of irregularly stacked boxes, of varied heights, which aims to provide a connection between the surrounding built form and landscape, within this highly urbanised environment". Apartments within are treated to views directly over Port Phillip Bay, Albert Park Lake, the Melbourne and emerging South Yarra skylines and all the way to Arthurs Seat and the Dandenongs.

The Icon is an exemplar of good design that provides affordable accommodation with significant shared facilities and amenities, such as the Level 5 residents lounge that features an expansive outdoor terrace area overlooking St Kilda Road and Albert Park, dining room and gym.

With recent discussion around the introduction of minimum apartment sizes and the potential impact that may have on developers' ability to deliver affordable accommodation, guests were invited to inspect five apartments as part of the opening, four of which Pace identified to be the smallest affordable apartments:

  • A one bedroom apartment (with borrowed light) on Level 7: 42sqm plus balcony priced in the mid/high $300,000 to low $400,000 range.
  • A three bedroom apartment on Level 7: 88sqm plus balcony priced in the high $600,000 range.
  • A one bedroom apartment on Level 9: 42sqm plus balcony priced in the mid/high $300,000 to low $400,000 range.
  • A two bedroom apartment on Level 9: 57sqm plus balcony priced in the low-mid $500,000 range.

Additionally there was a Penthouse-style three bedroom apartment, custom built on level 15 priced at $1,000,000, with a number of balconies including an extremely long balcony along the south.

Comment

It must be said that despite their size and the occasionally odd nuance here and there, the one bedroom apartments were quite comfortable in terms of their spacial and internal planning, affording more than adequate natural light. The Icon is impressive in how true it has managed to maintain and express the architectural integrity and design intent of JCB's vision, highlighted by the additional level of rigour and detail undertaken during the construction phase by Pace, in consulting with Matthew Johnson in ensuring the right colours were picked; not just for the mesh screens, but the backing walls behind.

The application of the coloured mesh panels to the soffits of the stacked boxes reinforces the dedication to seeing the vision realised, and that the completed building remained true to that vision, providing the pedestrian at street looking skyward with an appreciation of the stacked boxes in all dimensions. It would have been quite easy to reduce the distance which the elements cantilever from a constructability point of view and employing an alternative (say, villaboard) in lieu of the mesh undersides to save costs.

The decision to put design at the forefront is both commendable and admirable particularly when it has resulted in a brilliant and playful addition to the St Kilda skyline that has no boring elevations.

Laurence Dragomir, Urban Melbourne

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