Setting new benchmarks in ecological and social sustainability in medium-density public housing, the K2 Apartments project was an initiative of the Victorian Office of Housing, where DesignInc Melbourne won the open competition to deliver its exemplar scheme.
At a civic scale, its objectives were to minimise greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy consumption, maximise recycled materials and sustainable finishes, and provide healthy homes. To achieve this, we designed the complex of 96 apartments to function as a living system.
Its four interconnected buildings use passive and active environmental design strategies to maximise daylight access, summer cooling, winter warmth and natural ventilation. A ‘green spine’ of public and private gardens through the site encourages community among residents, and a positive urban identity.
The project was dubbed Australia’s most environmentally sustainable public housing by the Victorian Government, and won a string of design and sustainability awards.
Department of Human Services, Victoria (Office of Housing)
PROJECT LEADERSHIPStephen Webb
Stephen Webb, Design Director
When you take the approach, as we do, that the built environment can be an extension of the natural world, not just an adjunct to it, you find exciting possibilities everywhere.
About 150 people live in the K2 Apartments, in 40 one-bedroom and 56 two-bedroom units.
Each of its four buildings orients east-west, with heights calibrated for maximum winter sun access. Façade and roof pods are profiled and angled to optimise solar panel placement and shade the levels below.
Equipped with rainwater harvesting, grey water reuse, solar water heating and photovoltaic panels for power, compared to a standard apartment, each K2 Apartment uses:
- 55 per cent less mains electricity
- 46 per cent less mains gas
- 53 per cent less mains water
Department of Human Services, Victoria
K2 Apartments were designed as a healthy environment for tenants. Pedestrians have priority over cars, and the site is close to public transport and the CBD. Of the 96 apartments, 49 are designed for increased accessibility.