Nightingale Village takes home top gongs at the National Architecture Awards

Nov 1, 2023

Nightingale Village continued its awards haul on Tuesday night, taking home three awards at the prestigious National Architecture Awards.

💚 The Frederick Romberg Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing
💚 The David Oppenheim Award for Sustainable Architecture
💚 National Commendation for Urban Design.

Architecture architecture, Austin Maynard Architects, Breathe, Clare Cousins Architects, Hayball and Kennedy Nolan came together with Nightingale Housing in 2017 with a vision to create a fossil fuel-free residential precinct providing quality homes that support sustainable living and community connection.  The project comprises 203 homes across six buildings, with eight commercial tenancies at street level. Importantly, 20% of the project was allocated to Community Housing Providers to provide long term affordable rentals to those needing it most.

The Frederick Romberg Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing jury citation:

The much-awarded Nightingale projects may have their roots in Northern Europe, but they’re now very much a part of the local scene. The 'triple-bottom-line' multiple-housing typology, where the architect is also the developer, has been so successful in Melbourne that the waiting list for apartments in these developments remains in the hundreds. One question for Nightingale Housing to move forward was how it could be upscaled without losing the small-scale, bespoke ethic. In Nightingale Village in Melbourne’s inner-north, we see something of a grand experiment: take six architects and give them the same brief and parameters, and one large shared site with a shared street between, and see what it can become. This might imply that the result is rooted in chance, which was most certainly not the case. A carefully curated group of some of the country’s best designers assembled to draw from the hits (and misses) of the Nightingales that have gone before to create an urban village. All the familiar elements are there: no personal car-parking spaces but enough spots for share-cars; great passive design; no air conditioning; shared laundries; minimal interior finishes; a location close to multiple public transport routes; and instant community buy-in. What the Village adds (apart from economies of scale that further benefit the owner rather than the developer) is a heightened sense of community. Despite their holistic similarities, all the buildings in the Village are as different as you’d expect from a group of normally competing architects who are suddenly on the same side. These differences lend the owners the ability to, in effect, all play the same sport, but for different teams. We will need a variety of typologies to solve our housing crisis and while Nightingale provides one, it lays the groundwork for many more.

The David Oppenheim Award for Sustainable Architecture jury citation

Nightingale Village is a testament to the power of collaboration. Working with a community-focused approach, an alliance of architects set about creating a new village precinct within an established suburb and former industrial zone. Their intent was to create a fossil-fuel-free development in a central location, providing long-term homes for a diverse community. The result is a playful, lively and clearly much-loved series of buildings, each with its own character but sharing a common vision. Six buildings house 203 homes and eight commercial tenancies, allowing for residents to mix and for community and village culture to grow. A reductionist approach was employed from the outset, with all homes having only the essential spaces. Functions that can be shared are used as opportunities to bring people together, with buildings offering combined laundry spaces and rooftop gardens. This allows smaller footprints for individual units and an overall reduction in building size. The village is gas-free and operates with a shared energy network that draws from one substation connected to rooftop solar across the buildings. Power, internet, water and sewerage link to the site via a single point, and an innovative system allows residential toilets to be run with recycled water. All irrigation is fed by rainwater harvested onsite. Reliance on the single car for transport has been reconsidered, with parking provided for bikes and share-cars only; it will be interesting to see whether this influences residents’ transport habits over the years to come. The success of this project on so many levels can be traced back to the open collaboration between highly skilled individual architecture studios. The development demonstrates the merit of sharing information, and the social and environmental benefits of a design that considers more than the residents alone.

Nightingale Housing wishes to thank the Australian Institute of Architects and the hard working jury members.

Image: Pablo Veiga

Back to Updates overview