Zap Apartments
Toorak, Melbourne, Australia

Zap Apartments proposes that future property developments could be built and adapted within apparently marginalized sites of redundant utility infrastructures.

Zap Apartments imagines the electricity network will be decentralized and the electrical pylon on St Georges Road, Toorak will become a landmark relic of an archaic coal fuelled electrical industry. A new residential building of four exclusive apartments is proposed for the site with the pylon becoming a historic edifice whilst reinventing itself as a passive ‘green’ power generator.

Fronting the Yarra River, the site is within an affluent inner-city area. It is close to transport and has spectacular views towards both the city and the mountains. Whilst a forty-five metre tall electrical pylon dominates the centre of the site, the existing residential site offers incredible potential to build a series of homes that are desirable and innovative.

A series of protective triangulated roofs sit under the existing pylon and splits Zap Apartments into four identical homes. Each apartment is designed with open multi-purpose living, working and recreation zones. Designed over three levels, each accessible via central staircases with the living zones bleeding into outdoor spaces so distorting the barrier between indoors and out.

Entry is via the car park and bicycle podium level which also accommodates indoor gardens, gym, separate ‘media’ rooms and guest quarters for each apartment. A communal lap pool is located within the lower podium level where an infinity edge spills into the Yarra River. The ‘hot’ tub is located directly under the existing electrical pylon, offering the residents interior views of the historic steel structure and surrounding area.

Energy for the buildings could be generated through innovative solar collecting balloons located on the roof and historic pylon together with wind harvesting possibilities.

Zap Apartments draws references from the geometric aesthetics of the existing electrical pylon together with Architect Bruce Goff’s work, especially the Joe Price House, Bartsville, Oklahoma, 1950. Goff’s organic architecture uses naturally occurring ‘growth of form’ as catalysts to a buildings formation.

The proposed design also references electrical engineer and scientist Nikola Tesla’s 1901-17 Wardenclyfee Tower in Long Island New York. Tesla proposed a tower and podium community building within an existing suburb to support his vision of transmitting energy and communication via an intercontinental wireless device.

Zap Apartments offers a new way of thinking about sites previously designated for power generation and other utilities. As we become increasingly environmentally conscious in both the design, placement and subsequent developments of such utilitarian space, the multi-use potential of these sites will increase in importance.

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