Iglu Franklin Street

Iglu Franklin Street

Bates Smart Architects
229-241 Franklin Street, Melbourne Victoria, Australia
Project Year
Peter Clarke

Iglu Franklin Street

Bates Smart Architects as Architects

Occupying a prominent site in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market precinct, Iglu Franklin Street accommodates 691 students. The building is comprised of a 25 storey tower linked to a separate 10 storey podium and contains 221 studio apartments and 59 5- and 6-bedroom apartment clusters. The building seeks to elevate the quality of student accommodation in Melbourne and create a vibrant student community.

The site, located at 229-241 Franklin Street, is positioned north of the Hoddle Grid and south of the Queen Victoria Markets. Architecturally, the surrounding context is made up of mixed-use buildings of varying scales, styles and materiality. The building’s two-volume massing addresses these complexities. The 10 storey podium complements Franklin Street’s lower scale. Its light, slim line brick facade with deep recessed windows references the QVM precinct’s traditional buildings, while its two storey spandrels reinforce a human scale and contrast the tower’s verticality. 

The 25 storey tower aligns with the Hoddle Grid and the heights of towers located south of the site; a nine storey, light filled link connects it to the podium. The tower’s chamfered form bridges the scales of the QVM precinct and the Hoddle Grid. It also increases the separation between the podium and tower volumes as well as the setback from Franklin Street, reducing the tower’s visual bulk and increasing articulation. An aluminium and glass curtain wall reinforces this expression.  

The building community comes together at ground level. Entering off Franklin Street, residents step into a large, open plan lobby that leads to social and study breakout areas arranged around an outdoor courtyard. Its colourful, sleek furnishings set an upbeat, urban tone for the space. A café acts as the heart of the floor. Its large pivot windows flood the space with natural light and views to the courtyard and BBQ area and give residents a place where they can come together and share food. Additional facilities include a gym, media area, games area, bike storage and communal laundry. In the link, a double height study area overlooks the courtyard and encourages social interaction and collaboration.

The residential floorplates group studio apartments in the middle of the floor and locate apartment clusters at the end of each floor. Podium floors accommodate one 5-bedroom cluster, one 6-bedroom cluster and four studio apartments. This program optimises the number of cluster units with views and good solar amenity; living rooms are positioned on corners to maximise dual frontages and access to cross ventilation. The tower’s compact floors accommodate two 6-bedroom clusters and 8 studio apartments. In both buildings, studios contain their own kitchen and bathroom, while cluster apartments include ensuite bedrooms and shared kitchen, dining and living areas. Clever elements, including integrated storage and convertible daybeds, help residents to maximise space.

Since opening in 2018, Iglu Franklin Street has quickly become one of the city’s most desirable student accommodation buildings. The building’s popularity is a testament to its thoughtful design that balances refined architecture, efficient floorplates, and top amenities, setting a new precedent for student accommodation facilities.

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