Completed in 2016, Spectrum Apartments by KUD Architects is designed to ‘exemplify the diverse cultural context of Box Hill’, a famously multicultural suburb in Melbourne’s east.
The building site dominates three street frontages, and KUD wanted to ensure none of them went to waste. “It was critical that the architecture address and activate all three frontages but also be of a single architectural language.”
Single language, yes. Single colour, no. Spectrum Apartments does justice to its name in the variety of colours articulated in the “strips” of building mass that frame the residential complex. These “strips” – made of metal cladding – geometrically alternate over the floor plans, resulting in not just one façade, but myriad articulated façades that speak the language of colour.
“Basically, [the building] has an articulated edge that wraps around the building horizontally,” says Billy Kavellaris of KUD Architects. “Each floor works laterally (or rather, horizontally) – as you traverse the building’s façade, you can follow the strip wrapping.”
The material palette of the architectural interior prefers muted wood tones to the vibrant metal of the exterior. However, it is no less striking thanks to an ecologically-sound “lung” that distributes light and ventilation throughout the building.
“To increase the public amenity of the occupants of the apartment, the internal circulation areas are open to the sky, acting as a ‘lung’ to the development,” says Kavellaris. “This ‘lung’ [provides] additional daylighting and natural ventilation while allowing vegetation to populate the open atrium.”
To create this internal circulation system, the upper level of the five-storey building was fitted with a glass covering. The sunlight captured in this upper realm is given greater reach throughout the building thanks to a linked series of bridges. These are fitted with a solid tile surface and are entirely traversable by residents.
“Essentially, you get light and ventilation from both sides of the building,” says Kavellaris. “This enables cross-ventilation and better thermal and environmental impacts. [Whereas] most apartments nowadays are single aspect, in this instance, not only do you experience light and ventilation from your apartment, but also as an occupant when you walk through the building.”