Australia’s Greenest Apartment Complex Really is Something Else


The Commons, located in Melbourne, was designed by the firm Breathe Architecture and it just might he most sustainable apartment building in Australia. It s beautifully and thoughtfully designed, with sustainability etched into every available surface.

The Commons rises five stories, and contains 24 two-bedroom units. The complex is located 20 steps from the train that connects it to the city center, and 10 steps from the nearest bike path. The house also contains enough storage space for 72 bikes. The latter has many benefits, including saving about $638,000 in construction costs by eliminating the need to build a basement. This money was channeled into adding even more sustainable elements to the building.

The 13.8 inch thick western wall is acoustically insulated and shields the building from the constant train noise. The outer shell is made from corrugated opaque fiberglass that was coated with a corrosive-resistant gel. They also built a 2.95 inch perforated cavity into the wall, which works to draw in cool air through perforated copper panels and flush out hot air from the top. On the north side, wisteria vines leaves work to shade the apartments from the summer heat, while letting the sun’s heat in during the winter when the plants shed the leaves, effectively giving this building a green façade.


The units do not have ACs, since the building’s thermal efficiency, along with the ceiling fans are enough to keep the homes cool. Two gas hydronic boilers take care of the heating needs.

The flooring is made of unfinished timber, with the floorboards top nailed, so no toxic glue was used and they are easy to remove. The piping, and cables run along exposed, as no plaster was used to line the interior walls. To further reduce the carbon footprint of the home, the kitchens and bathrooms are not tiled, while none of the metals used for fittings have been chromed.



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