A Floating Black Metal Box | Waterloo Street by DKO Architecture

I know I’m living differently compared to a lot of other people... I know that I feel at home here.
— Craigh, resident of Waterloo Street

Project Information

Architects _ DKO Architecture
Clients _ Milieu Property
Location _ Carlton, Victoria
Film _ Red Brick Media


Down a small laneway wedged between busy Lygon and Swanston Street sits a small development, featuring five townhouses built inside and above a warehouse.

Completed back in 2016, Waterloo Street, designed by DKO Architecture, is a terrific example of not only living differently, but also smaller footprint living. The two townhouses we visited are approximately 75m2 each, spread over 4 levels, including a roof-deck. Within that space, DKO Architecture has managed to fit effectively two bedrooms, a living/kitchen/dining, and a roof deck with city views! Both Fran, and Tim and Craig arranged their own homes so that the second bedroom was either a study or a multi-functional room. So while compact, they offer much to those who live there. As Jesse, the lead architect of the project, said, “The core idea of the project was about testing new ways of living in the city.”

On the existing site sat a beautiful red brick warehouse, with not only rich texture but also standing as a piece of history. “The early ideas for the project were really about respecting the original building that was on site,” Jesse explains, “Respecting some of the history, and also understanding how this building sat within the area and context.” It would have been foolish to knock it down and clear away the bricks! “I really love that it’s embedded inside the original factory or warehouse,” Tim, a resident of Waterloo Street tells me, “Something extra that having the original brick facade wrapped around the property that gives it more integrity, a bit more character.”

It isn’t just the reuse of the old warehouse that makes this project such a standout, but also the black metal screen that appears to float above. This creates a strong statement, and definitely turns heads. “I love the screen, I love the outside of the building.” Fran, not only a resident but also mum of the lead architect, says, “The screen in contrast to the beautiful old red building is gorgeous.” While the screen is beautiful, it does serve a practical purpose of ensuring that the building is to code regarding overlooking the neighbours. “We took the ideas of the local church, and the patterning of the church,” Jesse explains, “Which we used to generate the screen around the building.”

“We like to live differently, and we like to feel at home at the same time,” Craigh explains, “And this house does that for you. This townhouse gives you that aspect to be able to live differently and feel at home at the same time.” And isn’t that a sign that as an architect, you’ve designed something special? “Walking in is actually really lovely,” Fran shares, “I feel quite closed in, and cocooned. I feel very safe here, and very comfortable.” However, what she said after just sums up this beautiful project. “It’s home, it’s my haven.”

Be sure to watch the full video above to get a sense of what life is like at this townhouse development, and hear from Jesse, Fran, Tim and Craigh. Also don’t forget to like, share and subscribe to help support what we’re doing.


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