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A natural development

Illura in West Melbourne blends the natural environment with modern living...

The great thing about competition is it boosts creativity and forces people to think outside the box.

Apartment buildings are a great example of this premise as designers and developers have to break the mould in order to stand out.

Callum Fraser, director at architecture firm Elenberg Fraser, says one of the main changes in apartment buildings is they are becoming more like resorts.

He is part of the design team of the new West Melbourne development Illura, which takes a traditionally industrial area back to nature.

“Illura is a landscaped garden resort,” Mr Fraser says. “It’s the integration of landscape and architecture.”

The building has a four-storey garden wall that has features grasses that used to exist in the West Melbourne area.

The Australian forest also features with green marble and mirrors used to mimic the effect of looking through the forest at the trunks of the trees.

Illura has also focused on making the apartments more spacious by not having communal facilities.

“We look at the building from the inside out,” Mr Fraser says. “It starts with the interior and sitting in the living room - everything is arranged around the inhabitants.”

Mr Fraser describes the building as an “integrated organism” that has connecting levels to reinforce the sense of community.

One of the standout features of the interior design is an integrated seat in the island bench, which is both “socially interactive and materially quite warm”.

Little Projects managing director Michael Fox says a lot more thought goes into development projects than people realise.

He uses the example of the Toorak Rd project of 388 apartments.

“We’re constantly thinking about making the space better,” Mr Fox says. “Toorak Rd was described by the architect as being like a boat - every bit of space is precious. We try to put more thought into the joinery and try to pack more in, such as storage. Where do you put your keys, change or mobile phone?”

In contrast to Illura, Toorak Rd has plenty of communal spaces to compensate for the smaller apartment sizes and includes a rooftop garden, outdoor cinema and communal dining room.

Hamton joint managing director Steve Buxton’s Eden project in Abbotsford has gone a step further and created a new community in the area. Eden has a whole lifestyle element and includes a health and wellbeing centre.

Mr Buxton says this allows the development to stand the test of time as well as adding the element of long-term capital growth.

“It’s something we enjoy providing,” he says.

It’s a slightly different view from the middle-ring suburbs where space is expected.

Adrian Santini, from Barry Plant Wheelers Hill, says in his area buyers want extra parking bays and garden space, as opposed to inner-city buyers who usually want gyms or pools.

Source: Leader Newspaper