Rose Spring Apartments

Year: 1999 - 2001

In 1926 this saw-toothed factory was built as a textiles manufacturing plant, “out of the bustle” of the CBD, in Fitzroy.  It remained in the same family for 75 years.  Now, it is a modern residential space in the inner city fringe; a prime example of its Architects’ ingenuity in evolving place to accommodate society’s ever changing needs.

No apology has been made for the industrial façade.  The original character of the building is retained; raw red brick, scarred by nine decades of use.  This feature allows the building to retain much of its privacy and security, remaining at a swift glance inconspicuous in the city landscape but punctuated by a generous entry porch on the West wall.  The entry is further defined at night by a warm luminous glow through a laser cut steel signature panel.

Upon entering through the electronic access system you become fully aware that this is no longer a factory.  White Mt Gambier stone, peach sandstone, metal cladding and heavy fabric wraps sparkle with life in such contrast to the unembellished exterior.  Whether home or visiting, you have arrived.

The central courtyard is open to the sky, flooding residents’ front windows with light, light which is at such a premium in densely populated areas.  The existing trusses are the only elements allowed to stretch across the opening.

Screen fences in this secure central communal space were designed to be a sculptural element in their own right.  Their fabric and steel are reminders of the manufacturing textile industry of the building’s past. 

The Architects have created a generous upper terrace to which all residents have access.  Glorious city views in remarkable quiet can be enjoyed here for pre or post dinner drinks, or with a book during the day.  The contrast in materials between the red rubber tiled floor and white metal cladding truly is a spectacle completely unexpected.

Each unit features an open plan fitted out with German appliances, Italian tiles and sanitary fittings, abundant storage space, separate laundry, double glazing and climate controlled hydronic heating.  These environmentally sensitive copper hydronic panels are as much sculptural as functional.  Their amber glow is emphasised against the limestone party walls. Solid black granite bench tops, commercial quality carpets, and rich brown stairs of recycled Blue Gum are a feature of each apartment.

Striking, but at the same time deceiving interior is the height of the apartments ceilings of some three to six meters high are part of each space’s full volume and satisfying scale.  The line of the steel topped glass balustrade, the verticals of the space and stone course work and the horizontals of the bench tops and spreading floor all provide for visually pleasing balance and simplicity.

It is with skill that the massive materials of brick, stone and concrete have not been allowed to burden the spaces they define with dull weight.  Natural light, tall proportions and floating mezzanines change the architectonic, allowing the character of each space to establish itself naturally.

The 50 Spring Street development is a perfect example of the benefits achieved by thinking “outside the square”.  For it is only when we look beyond the passive exterior that this city oasis is discovered.