Callum, Jess and Sally

About
apartment life with a newborn, and the benefits of thoughtful design
— at
Nightingale LeftfieldNightingale Studios
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Tell us a little about yourselves.

CALLUM: We are both high school teachers - I teach maths and English. We met during COVID lockdowns, on Tinder…

JESS: …when you could have one-hour coffee walking dates.

CALLUM: We live together now, obviously, but also it turns out that when we were little kids, we both lived in Alice Springs - 

JESS: And our houses were only 400m apart!

CALLUM: And this is Sally. She is named after my grandma, who I didn't get to meet because she passed away when I was young. 

How did you find out about Nightingale Housing?

JESS: I teach outdoor and environmental studies to Years 11 and 12 in VCE. Part of the curriculum is green building design, and the number one example in the syllabus is Nightingale - so I had heard about it through that. 

CALLUM: I used to be very much against the idea of an apartment. I never had any affinity for them, because I think in Australia, we don't really have a culture of quality apartments.

But I ended up renting an apartment in The Commons [the prototype for Nightingale] with a previous partner. The spaces are so thoughtful. I realised that the way a home is designed can shape people's behaviour in a really positive way. The lobby at The Commons is such a beautiful space to just loiter. I'd never thought about how nice it is, to have a place to loiter. You end up having lots of conversations with your neighbours. 

What appealed to you about the Nightingale approach?

JESS: I’m very interested in sustainability and having a light footprint. I had thought apartment living might work for me because I really like going out to nature and camping and going on hikes, and having a home as a base. I don't need heaps of space, but I want the ability to go out to all these nice places that we're so close to in Victoria.

CALLUM: It’s interesting to see how different things are important to different people. Some just want to have lots of people around them and build relationships in the community. Then we've got a whole bunch of architects, who want to geek out about the design. There are eco-warriors who really love the sustainability side of things. It’s kind of great that there's a melting pot aspect to it.

How have you found the experience of bringing a baby into Nightingale Leftfield?

JESS: They say you should have a baby where you feel safest, whether that’s at home or in the hospital or a centre, whatever works. We had the birth right here. We were able to create such a lovely space, with really nice lighting and ambience. She was born on the coldest day of the year, and this place felt like a lovely cocoon.

CALLUM: I think one of the reasons why she's a very calm baby is that it's a comfortable temperature in here, all the time. I never worry about her being cold when she's inside.

JESS: We’ve had lots of people that live in The Village bring us food hampers.

CALLUM: Something that’s special about Nightingale is that we were able to put a message out to the Facebook group with all the Nightingale buildings to ask if anyone needed a housesitter, so we could have our family come stay from interstate after the birth. Jess's parents stayed in our neighbours’ place in CRT+YRD, her sister stayed in our spare room, and my parents stayed in our neighbours’ apartment downstairs. 

JESS: Another thing that has been nice is that we have coffee on Mondays at Kines with a few people in the building. It was really good when our families were here, but it was only for a few weeks. So it’s nice to have that regular social outing.

First published in
October 2023