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The Commons

Melbourne, Australia
1 of 7
The Commons, Brunswick, Australia

The Commons is a multi-residential apartment building located in Brunswick, Melbourne (roughly 7km from the CBD). The project was designed by local architect, Jeremy McLeod of Breathe Architecture.

The Sustainable Elements

The project is made up of 24 apartment, 2 artist studios with a cafe and retail space on the ground level. The apartments are minimally designed but take advantage of Northern aspects and natural light to give each small apartment (74sq m) the feeling of more space.

In a move that caused some issues with building approval through local and state councils - the complex does not accommodate any car parking - instead it has bicycle parking for 65 bikes and a dedicated car-sharing vehicle through GoGet. This was critical in reducing building costs, at the time of building application in Victoria, the government legislation required each dwelling to have at least 2 car-parking spaces per residence. This would have added unnecessary bulk and substantial cost to the project.

Other key elements that were employed on this project include double-glazing (something not typically used in construction in Australia), recycled timber flooring, exposed concrete ceilings and columns to provide thermal mass and extra insulation which meant air-conditioning for each apartment was eliminated.

One clear highlight of the building is the communal roof space which includes a large entertaining area, garden plots and an apiary. The rooftop space finalises the notion of community - a new definition of a backyard for the urban inhabitant.

Triple bottom-line development ethos

The architect, Jeremy McLeod, coined the phrase triple bottom-line development as the project aimed to hit three key principles in the outcome of the build - affordability, sustainability and liveability.

The architect has said one of the challenging points was finding an ethical developer for the project - in the end he partnered with Small Giants. The first B-Certified Corporation in Australia, meaning they use the power of business to solve social and environmental issues.


The Commons won numerous awards in 2014 including sustainable architecture and best residential project.

It continues to be used as a case study for future developments in Melbourne including a proposed residential building across the road which has brought together four local Melbourne architects as investors. It is awaiting council approval.

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aleeshacallahan, February 12th, 2016
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