Nightingale Village wins big at the Victorian Architecture Awards

Jun 19, 2023

Congratulations to the incredible architects, collaborators, supporters, partners and residents of Nightingale Village - awarded four awards at Friday night’s Victorian Architecture Awards including the prestigious Melbourne Prize and the highest award for Sustainability. Each year the Melbourne Prize is awarded to a project which is judged to have made a significant and unique contribution to the city.

💚 The Dimity Reed Melbourne Prize
💚 The Allan and Beth Coldicutt Award for Sustainable Architecture
💚 Award for Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing
💚 Award 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. 

Every building was designed according to the social, environmental and financial sustainability principles of Nightingale Housing: building homes for people, not profit. While the trend in medium- to high-density development is towards poor-quality apartments aimed at generating profits for investors, Nightingale Village aimed to create healthy, livable spaces where people would settle and create long lasting community.

Melbourne Prize jury citation

While the Nightingale model, with its restrained material palette and shared facilities, is already highly lauded, the jury felt that this project, which escalates the scale of the model to the village precinct delivers outstanding results. These impacts are felt across both the industry and people’s day-to-day lives. 

The jury was impressed with Nightingale Village as an example of leadership and action in the face of global warming, with the architects self-organising to overcome established market expectations and lending parameters to deliver a precinct of high social and environmental quality. They demonstrate the meaning that can be derived when we are free to challenge commercial models. 

Including a wide range of Melbourne’s architects in the project promotes new models of collaboration and reflects a certain generosity. It ensures the dissemination of knowledge relating to delivering environmentally responsible buildings through the local design community. The range of practices involved in the project also resulted in a diversity of ideas including dog runs, bath houses, bookable guest suites and precinct resource management. This project considers the social life of the people that live there, encouraging delight in lower footprint living behaviours through minimal car usage, electrification and shared facilities.  

The Allan and Beth Coldicutt Award for Sustainable Architecture jury citation

Nightingale Village begins and ends with community. The collective of architects behind this project began their journey seeking to redefine the expectations of developers, architects and what it means to provide housing. This community of architects has opened the gate for a new community of residents to seed what was previously an urban backwater into the gravitational centre of an emergent neighbourhood.

The joy in this project is the continual sharing and gifting of resources. A series of individuated buildings, each with its own exceptional level of care and ingenuity, help to create a sense of vibrancy and diversity. However, the total worth of the whole is so much more than the sum of its individual parts, where overlapping vertical gardens, central voids full of light and life, pedestrian lanes, and street parks, allow the shared habitation of every corner.

Nightingale Village is a powerful catalyst to build community, prioritise social, economic and environmental sustainability. This project is not a group of standalone residential developments, like many through inner Melbourne, but an entwined shared environment that will change the way developers and architects visualise and contribute to our environment today and for generations to come. 

Award for Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing jury citation

The Nightingale Village is more than the sum of its parts, a social enterprise that acts as a community hub for its inhabitants while reinvigorating the local precinct more broadly. Prioritising communal spaces and collective amenity, the development is anchored by a highly social landscaped laneway that bisects the site, acting as a social incubator and allowing interaction between apartments and buildings.

The six individually designed buildings are highly coloured and detailed, each offering a distinctly personalised approach yet united by a subtle thread of recurrent detailing. The ethos of financial affordability, environmental and social sustainability provides a prototype for high density urban living.

Award for Urban Design jury citation

Nightingale Village is a considered urban design response to the fraught question of how to live comfortably together in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. Comprised of six buildings adjacent to the train line in Brunswick, Nightingale Village is a welcoming, fine-grain extensive development that offers a sustainable alternative to the often opaque and monolithic high-density residential model that surrounds it.

The success of the design lies in the design team's ability to solve complex problems at a multitude of scales. At the city scale, the development actively leverages its large size (203 dwellings) to maximise its environmental response through the sharing of services and amenities.

It manages to do this without exclusion or privatising adjacent spaces. Nightingale Village feels like a continuation of the surrounding residential fabric, albeit at a taller scale. Six architects have each designed a unique and finely tuned building that forms an authentic new Brunswick neighbourhood. Balconies, courtyards and active shopfronts line interfaces giving the precinct a sense of life while offering passive surveillance.

The pedestrian scale is elegantly considered, from integrated seating ledges to playful letterboxes ensuring the spaces between buildings feels safe and inviting.

This excellent project is the result of a rich multidisciplinary collaboration. It sets a high standard for the development of multi-residential buildings in Melbourne and encourages big conversations around title boundaries, setbacks and precincts.

Nightingale Housing wishes to thank the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects and the hard working jury members and to everyone involved. It took a Village!

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