Trinity Apartments is a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable housing project which k20 Architecture aims to establish as a new benchmark for affordable housing. The project is situated in West Footscray, Melbourne in an area undergoing a transformation driven by both private and public investment in infrastructure and land development. At a time of global economic uncertainty coupled with soaring housing prices and high demand for social housing, the directors of k20 Architecture saw an opportunity to create a new paradigm in affordable housing by taking on the unique role of owner, developer and Architect for the project.
Trinity Apartments was designed and delivered to conform to the NRAS (National Rental Assistance Scheme) developed by the previous Federal Government, which was designed to support low cost housing via the use of private investment. Residents in the 24 apartments receive a 20 percent rental reduction for up to 10 years with the added benefit of reduced energy bills for the life of the building enabled by the incorporation of environmentally sustainable design innovations. The concept of "Trinity" is all-encompassing and flows from the location of the site to the project's branding and custom designed motif. The concept primarily emerged from the location of the site which is on the border of three suburbs: Kingsville, West Footscray and Yarraville. The site is also at the crossroads of three major roads: Geelong Road, Somerville Road and Roberts Road. The building itself is made up of three equal levels of 8 apartments. The custom designed trinity logo (made up of three intersecting figure eights) realises three aspirations for the design; sustainability, affordability and people centred design. The Trinity motif is intrinsically linked to the building and is reflected throughout the building in a discreet cut out at the Geelong road entry point; with the shadows cast by the large cut outs in the roof to the North and South elevations; and most notably in the custom designed precast concrete walls to the East and West.
A further notion of ‘Trinity’ is expressed by linear cross planning. This rectilinear planning enables the apartment building form to be crafted and cut into 4 quadrants. The quadrants enabled connections to be folded through the planning of the block. Each apartment has access to natural daylight in every room as well as in the corridors. To promote social interaction, the foyer was designed to be double the width of a usual foyer which enables moments for connection and conversation. The internal passageways are short and connect all of the occupants with city views in the common areas. Further social interactive spaces include the rear social garden, which is connected to Stony Creek Reserve and is not fenced nor closed off. This enables the social space to be shared with the broader community and creates a greater connection with the residents outside the block.
Trinity Apartments sets a benchmark for apartment living by delivering innovation in environmentally sustainable design. The building achieved a NatHERS sustainability star rating of 9.1 stars of out 10 with the average star rating across the full project of 7.3. This has been achieved through passive solar design and by incorporating high thermally efficient building fabric. Throughout the building energy efficient fittings, motion and light sensors and high performing appliances have been incorporated. Selection of finishes and building materials were made to lower the environmental cost of both embodied energy in the project and the energy output estimated over the life of the building.
Via its unique role as developer and Architect, k20 Architecture sought to break away from the confines of the norm by creating a new typology for innovative and sustainable housing in an affordable housing price bracket. This was achieved by a design that both enhances the connection of residents to the local environment and extends beyond the realms of the site through its innovative sustainable design with a high level of social equity.