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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.

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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: Trevor Mein


Piccolo Developments




Melbourne, Australia

Completion Date



48,400 square meters


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

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

  • Best Residential Development

On the edge of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the residences are complemented by proximity to transport, entertainment and cafes.

Multiple urban influences figured into the design analysis and planning approval process.

An elevated three-story textured masonry podium allows for the typical low-scale typology apropos to the Carlton area.

Comfort is immediately created by the use of soft sandy tones, timeless joinery and wool carpets underfoot.

Generous sized bedrooms seamlessly translate into dressing rooms and en-suite spaces in this private, garden-side retreat.