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July 20, 2022

Back in 2014, Breathe looked around Melbourne, saw a broken housing system, and sought to build a new housing model that focused on people, not profits. The priority was towards socially, economically and environmentally sustainable apartments, with a strategy of build less, give more.

The site on Florence Street in Melbourne's inner-north suburb of Brunswick was perfect for the revolutionary apartment building, with public transport and bike paths at its doorstep. The architecture responds to Brunswick's industrial, with steel-frame winter gardens and recycled cream bricks.

The ground floor includes commercial tenancies, bike parking and a refuse room. Each level of Nightingale 1 features two 2-bedroom and three 1-bedroom apartments, totalling 20 apartments over four levels. On the rooftop is a communal laundry, vegetable garden and landscape outdoor area for the residents to enjoy.

Breathe's approach to build less, give more can be seen throughout, particularly with the idea of reductionism in each apartment. Ceilings are eliminated, with the concrete and services exposed, reducing the structure and plasterboard needed for a typical ceiling. The recycled timber floorboards do not use adhesives: rather, it's fixed down to allow it to be removed and reused. Dedicated laundries and second bathrooms are eliminated, giving more space to the apartments' living areas.

Nightingale 1 was developed around sustainability, being carbon-neutral in operation by eliminating gas from the apartments, with 18kW of solar on the roof. With Melbourne's heating climate, mechanical cooling is removed, focusing on well-insulated apartments that allow cross ventilation. Double-glazed windows and sliding doors help with thermal regulation and reduce the adjacent train noise.

Nightingale 1 exists to revolutionise how we live together and respond to the ongoing climate and housing crisis. Breathe knows everything isn't fixed, but in the last five years since Nightingale 1 was completed, there has been a shift in the housing market, with more demand for sustainable and affordable apartments.

Website article with photographs and the floor plan:

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Nightingale Housing

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