For Melbourne architecture house Ascui & Co ‘creative freedom begins – ironically - with the tightest brief’. 

With a knack for bringing ingenuity and distinction to even the most confounding briefs, no firm was better equipped to redesign the permit approved site at 160 Whitehorse Road purchased by Pace Development Group in 2018.

Fittingly named ‘Pace of Blackburn’, Ascui & Co were tasked to deliver an architectural response for the site, better aligned to the Pace brand, audience and local context within the existing 8767sq m building envelope.

“To redesign a building within an existing permit can be challenging because you need to retrofit your own creative aspirations into fairly rigid parameters,” said Gonzalo Ascui of Ascui & Co.

“The task requires extensive consideration and careful analysis to determine how we as the architects can deliver an outcome that it is artistically stimulating, whilst overcoming the perceived shortfalls of the original design and meeting the client’s brief.”

The original permit apartments were deemed unsuitably sized by Pace and floorplans lacked the efficiencies required for the anticipated family purchaser.

Ascui & Co, in conjunction with the project interior designer Adele Bates, set about designing the ideal one, two and three-bedroom apartments to fit Pace’s design brief and sizing expectations, and then replanned each floor plate within the parameters of the existing building envelope, which takes an unusual triangular form.

“The triangular shape of the land which tapers inwards presented unique obstacles, but equally an exciting opportunity for us to get creative and integrate more sustainable design features”, said Ascui.

The original structure was a commercial looking, glass-clad building. The Pace of Blackburn design now boasts passive sun shading, high thermal insulation levels, with double glazing, water recycling for toilets and gardens, PV solar panels for common area power use and more.

“We are delighted to have been able to achieve a more traditional residential typology by warming up the façade with earthy tones, for a locally-fitting and more environmentally refined design response.”

Pace of Blackburn is set on horizontal concrete bands which become stronger at one end of each building, merging to form an angled feature that provides movement that then transitions to lighter form and glass.

The base of the building contains retail frontages and public access points, providing a gateway to the plaza at the heart of the development, and creating a link between Whitehorse Rd, Railway Rd and Blackburn Railway Station.

Offset geometry of vertical and horizontal fine aluminium frames on the upper levels distinguish the building’s floors.

“With generous recessed balconies providing shading, weather protection and planter boxes for vertical gardens, Pace of Blackburn is a refined, homely and contextually sound structure which will fit comfortably amid the local, verdant streetscapes”, said Ascui.

It was critical the design was considerate of its local context while providing the space, amenity and quality family purchasers need”, said Pace Development Group’s sales and marketing director, Danielle Titterton. 

“Families come in all shapes and sizes, but generally require larger apartments, of which there are plenty at Pace of Blackburn.”

Pace of Blackburn interiors designed by Adele Bates will offer a choice of light or dark schemes, with all apartments maximizing storage.  Many have a butler’s pantry and built-in table seating within the kitchen island which is intended to free up floor space and ensure residents are given the same living comfort as would be available in a traditional family home.

The development also includes lots of communal space for parents and children, including a pool and outdoor entertainment area.

“Pace of Blackburn will be a great place for families to entertain friends, with a lap pool, children’s play pool and huge entertaining kitchen.”

Launching first in the Pace of Blackburn development is 125 apartments over two towers of 6 and 7 storeys, with another two mixed-use towers planned.