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The Garden House

Multifamily Design Stays True to Historical Melbourne Neighborhood's Confines While Also Offering A Modern Living Space

Sitting opposite of Melbourne’s Royal Carlton Gardens and the Royal Melbourne Exhibition Center, this luxurious five-story apartment building is just a walk away from the coastal capital’s central business district and the historically Italian neighborhood around Lygon Street.

Located on the corner of Rathdowne and Queensbury Street, the first three floors made of concrete, glass, and wood are set within a textured podium that elevates the entire structure off the ground lane with several concrete geometric columns and splayed piers. The apartments in this form have several balconies external louvre blinds providing shade to the north and visual privacy to the south from the Panorama building. Extending to the west, it also wraps around three individual townhouses facing towards Grosvenor Place that are the same height as the Carlton terrace due to historical district building restrictions. In total, this part of the building houses 18 one-bedroom, 25 two-bedroom, and a trio of three-bedroom apartments. Additionally, the first floor houses both retail and commercial space.

The top two levels are referred to as the “Sky Villas,” a series of condos clad in several pieces of metal, are a darker shade of gray. Responding to the neighborhood’s architectural context, the pieces sit back from all the podium edges, about six meters from the Terrain House Building-side and five meters from the Rathdowne Street side. This helps to both respect its heritage neighbors and break down the architectural mass of the building. On the northern side, the roof features a built-in garden terrace.

Strong sustainability principles have been incorporated as well, which include double glazing, smart lighting, rain water harvesting, external shading and positive thermal mass.

Photography Credit: Trevor Mein



It's all about location

In an exclusive location on the edge of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, and just minutes from the CBD, The Garden House offers luxurious residences complemented by proximity to transport, entertainment and the area’s inherent cafe culture.

The corner site is bound by divergent typologies. 

There was no single urban character from which the proposal drew influence; in fact, the solution by necessity needed to respond to numerous urban characteristics. No single urban influence dominated in the design analysis and planning approval process.


Factoring in scale

A three-storey textured masonry podium is elevated off the ground plane with a series of columns and splayed piers. This elevation allows for entrances and gardens to exist under the 10.5m high podium. This 10.5m forms a typical low scale bulk familiar to the Carlton area.

Within this podium form are deep-set balconies and additional angled concrete integrated balconies and external louvre blinds, which provide shading to the north and visual privacy to the south from the high sight-line angle from the Panorama building.

The podium form wraps around to the west to create three individual townhouses fronting Grosvenor Place of a proportion and height typifying a Carlton terrace module.


Creating a sanctuary within a sanctuary

Each apartment has been designed around the philosophy of creating a sanctuary within a sanctuary. 

Generous sized bedrooms seamlessly translate into dressing rooms and en-suite spaces, creating a luxurious and private garden-side retreat. Comfort is immediately created by the use of soft sandy tones, timeless joinery and wool carpets underfoot.



Piccolo Developments


Melbourne, Australia


48,400 sq m



Completion Date



Urban Development Institute of Australia Award for Excellence

  • President’s Award, Most Outstanding Development in Australia
  • National Award, Medium Density Housing
  • Victorian State Award, Medium Density Development

Property Council of Australia / Rider Levett Bucknall Innovation and Excellence Awards (2013)

  • Best Residential Development
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