Tao Home is a Hayball-designed residential project by Sunbright Development Australia in Melbourne’s Box Hill. Developed in response to a demand from the Chinese community for a multi-generational housing model that would allow extended families to live together without compromising individual freedom, Tao Home specifically addresses the needs of seniors in their post-retirement years.

Though the development mainly targets buyers of Chinese origin, the model is attractive to all ethnicities and backgrounds. Featuring 80 self-contained apartments in one, two and three-bedroom configurations, the building supports independent living, enabling different generations from the same family to live under the same roof with shared entrances. Dual-key apartments, combining a one-bedroom apartment with a studio, further allow different generations to live together with independence.

Hayball director Eugene Chieng explains that Chinese-Australians want to look after their parents, but they don’t necessarily want to live with them.

“It’s a way to keep them close, but not too close.”

Hayball’s creative design of Tao Home is already making its mark in Box Hill with its striking façade, which includes a strong base of brick inlay panels from Robertson Facade Systems for the podium and a series of multi-coloured Vitrapanel cladding for the upper levels.

“The idea was to have a strong brick base to lower the building’s centre of gravity and combine that with a much lighter-weight structure on the upper levels to break down the mass, and create a good connection to the context,” Hayball associate Ian Khoo explained.

Iron Mountain brick tiles on the podium and a filigree of three-toned Vitrapanel cladding deliver a warm palette to complement the surrounding buildings.

“The warmer browns, greys and red-greys of the brick tiles tied in with the idea of having a soft lightness – playing down the bulk of the rest of the building … We managed to get a warmth to the façade and reduce the perception of bulk,” says Khoo.

The staggered windows on the brick podium that don’t follow a standard repeat across multiple floors create an interesting sight. A number of striking brick piers are broken up with small punctuations, helping to maintain interest, while creating solidity and scale.

“There’s a real cleanness to the brick tiles and when Sunbright Development saw them, they were really pleased; it’s very neat,” Khoo commented.

Constructing the brick podium well required a robust and proven brick inlay system to reproduce the offset pattern of the windows (which required no lintels). Robertson Facade System’s brick inlay system more than met the brief by offering a cost-effective solution that assured both simplicity and speed in construction.

“A number of design features cater specifically for the ageing market, such as a walking track and productive landscape on the rooftop, so residents can grow vegetables and keep active. Seats and grab rails are provided in bathrooms and there’s an emergency call system available, like those used in retirement villages,” Eugene Chieng said.

Sunbright Development is exceptionally happy with the design outcomes, especially with the brick inlay façade.

Images: Robertson Facade Systems