MELBOURNE – Carabott Holt Turcinov Architects – CHT – recently completed the Maze Apartments in Melbourne. The multi-residential building is a formal exploration of graphic patterns inspired by the works of Helmut Federle and Sol LeWitt. The designers say, ‘The found geometry of a maze was projected onto the façade grid, informing both the composition and placement of architectural elements’ while paying homage to the neighbourhood’s industrial history.
Like the work of Federle and LeWitt, the Maze Apartments incorporate optical illusions and play with the viewer’s depth perception using bold geometry. Dark window glass recedes on the façade and looks like a void, particularly when viewed at night. Material selection emphasises different functions on the façade. Conversely, individual apartment units are not clearly legible from the exterior, even though the building is based on a stacked floor plan. This design team wanted to create a ‘cost-effective, raw and robust building’ with a ‘non-repetitive aesthetic’.
Sustainability considerations factored into the design. Apartments were oriented north to give them favourable solar access while the internal layout was designed to maximise daylight and natural ventilation.
The maze motif is carried into all aspects of the design – it is on the hallway wall, is formed by kitchen cabinets and on floor-level signs. The Maze Apartments began as a formal exercise, but – unlike many buildings designed in this way – formalism has not hampered the building’s functionality.