Inside A 1960s Apartment Complex in South Yarra

With its unassuming brown brick exterior, it’s hard to imagine the eclectic mix of apartments found behind the walls of this 1960s mid-rise apartment complex.

Located in the heart of South Yarra on Toorak Road, the block was originally designed in 1965 by architects Moore & Hammond.

The building has a history of well-established owner occupiers, perhaps due to the heritage precinct the complex is found in — which ensures the beautiful northern aspect overlooking the lush greenery of nearby Como House and its surrounding gardens will remain unchanged for years to come. Some residents have even lived there since day dot, including one who is 100 years old!

A more recent resident, Birthisel Wittingslow architect Brett Wittingslow stumbled upon an open inspection for one of the apartments five years ago, and was ‘hooked the moment I walked into the foyer’, he says. At the auction one week later, Brett and his partner Leo snapped it up.

‘It’s rare to come across an intact apartment building of this era that has such generosity in terms of apartment sizes and attention to detail in common areas.’

The couple actually purchased the home from its original owner, who had lived there for 50 years! This meant it had remained in original pristine condition, providing the perfect footprint for a few cosmetic upgrades to suit modern living.

In renovating, they made sure to include materials that paid homage to the building’s mid-century style, such as brass tapware in the kitchen and grey mosaic bathroom wall tiles.

Between the apartment floors, the building has a strong design presence with features like deep green marbled floor tiling and original timber staircases. There’s also a sense of community with shared areas including a large garden and lawn, and a central atrium that floods sunlight throughout each floor.

While Brett and Leo’s renovated dwelling has an elevated, minimal vibe, fellow resident Gwynneth’s apartment is starkly different with more of a Baroque-style fit-out featuring her eclectic collection of paintings, sculptures and furniture.

Gwynneth bought her pad over 20 years ago, after falling in love with its mid-century architecture, spacious floor plan and her favourite feature — a protected conservatory-style balcony she has since filled with plants and a couple of cane chairs overlooking the treetops.

‘It’s the perfect breakfast spot looking over the city through the trees, and watching the sunset in the evening,’ she says. ‘I’m retired in my 70s, and love the proximity to shops, parks, libraries, cinemas and public transport.’

Thanks to the support of its longstanding residents, the 1960s complex is now home to a lovely community of people who value, respect and care for the apartments and surrounding environment.

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