DEFINING SPACE

“Places are spaces that people have made meaningful or have attached to in some way. Every place includes three things; location, locale, and sense of place.”

John Agnew

“We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Winston Churchill, 1943. Neuroscience and psychology provides plenty of evidence to back this up. We know that buildings, design and architecture can affect our mood and well-being, and that specialised cells in the hippocampal region of our brains are attuned to the geometry and arrangement of the places we inhabit. Quite simply, that is why “place” is so important.

But, what is “place”? How do we define it and how exactly does it define us? At PACASA we believe place is defined by three things; location, locale, and attachment.

Location is easy enough to understand. The suburb, its schools, facilities, restaurants, cafes and local businesses, all elements that bring people warmth and a sense of familiarity. For MERRIPARK3070 location is defined even in the name.

Locale refers to the physical shape of a place – the walls of a room, the buildings in a city, even the personal belongings, artwork, furnishings and materials that bring comfort. You’ll see evidence of this in every element of MERRIPARK3070, from the industrial red brick exterior to the bespoke artwork available.

Attachment however is a feeling that is far less tangible but in a sense far more important. When one describes a setting as “their place,” it’s this attachment they are referring to. It’s a sense of familiarity, an understanding of the world around them. It’s all of these elements in combination that define place and explain why as humans we are drawn to architecture that “speaks to us” that welcomes us and that most importantly – makes us feel at home. It’s this feeling of attachment that we’re designing for at MERRIPARK3070 – the instinctual reaction that defines these buildings as ‘home’.

Our first impressions of most places are visual. As such, aesthetics are important, they have the capacity to improve our experience. In order to create visual appeal for MERRIPARK3070, we interrogated our designs asking; who is this for? How will it improve their lives? Is it functional, appropriate, simple and honest?

Once we answered these questions we knew we were defining a place of beauty that is more than just superficially attractive.

Inspired by the house, drawn into nature.

Featherston House. Designed by Robin Boyd in 1967 for acclaimed furniture designers Mary and Grant Featherston.

The magical moments are plentiful when you live in a house designed for them. A place where the brief was based around the idea of ‘living in a courtyard.’ Where the clients were artistic and co-operative, and the Architect is famous for turning buildings into ‘expressions of the human spirit.’

The concept of Featherstone House, which resonated for the brief for MERRIPARK3070 was to create adaptable, interlinked spaces where one could enjoy the open green space from all living areas of the house.  Inviting nature in and allowing soft light to illuminate the space at all times.

The reason for Featherston House’s continued relevance and its influence on this project are fundamental to its inception. It’s based on our desire to be completely at home and entirely purposeful yet utterly connected to nature. It’s this idea, this intrinsic desire, that continues to inspire us and drives us to create meaningful places – where nature is not an afterthought or accessory but as much a part of the design as the walls and glazing that traditionally are designed to keep it at bay.

Its radical expressions of open plan living and indoor green space were a bold experiment at the time – yet unlike many architectural trends of the past they still feel strikingly relevant and contemporary today.

Featherston House images courtesy of Earl Carter

It’s a little
bit different

Northcote lives and breathes the buzz. It’s a community as diverse as the architecture creating it. However, the one thing that all of Northcote has in common is a strong sense of social place. From iconic cafes like the Cornerstone of Northcote, Field black and Estelle to new and innovative hot spots - Tinker and Bicycle Thieves - there is plenty to choose from with many welcoming dogs or offering quirky children’s play spaces. Oh and coffee. Plenty of excellent, award-winning coffee.

High Street Northcote is one of Melbourne’s most dynamic & creative locations, with a history spanning 150 years.

BOOKENDS OF THE
SOCIAL COMMUNITY

Strolling around Northcote it’s clear that the inspiration for MERRIPARK3070 has been drawn directly from the innovative design, eclectic industrial aesthetic and the warm and welcoming social environment of the area.

Tinker of Northcote, the self proclaimed ‘mischievous dreamers’, have taken the lead in transitioning the area to become a cultural bastion of taste. Designed to be a meeting place where everybody and anybody could enjoy one another’s company, in a comfortable setting where they feel welcomed at all times. Their café, imbibes cool and super sleek with interiors of cool greys, teal and bronze. Combined with their deliciously inventive menu they seek to inspire a generation that appreciates style, quality and substance in an understated way.