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Nightingale 1

Brunswick, VIC

Nightingale 1 is the first project completed under the Nightingale Model – a new set of systems and processes for housing provision. The 20-apartment building draws inspiration from the German Baugruppen (building group) movement and the example set by The Commons, across the road. Both buildings, designed by Breathe Architecture, actively involved residents in the process of design and development and made affordability, liveability and sustainability key priorities.

Category: Building Groups


About the project


Nightingale 1 is the first project completed under the Nightingale Model – a set of systems and processes for housing provision. The model exists to enable licensed architects to lead Nightingale projects, using the learnings and interrogations from previously completed Nightingale buildings.


The 20-apartment building draws inspiration from the German Baugruppen (building group) movement and The Commons; a pilot project across the street, also designed by Breathe Architecture. In designing Nightingale 1, the architects actively involved residents in the design and procurement process, facilitating the construction of a multi-residential building that is financially, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Nightingale 1 is 100% fossil fuel free in operation thanks to an energy-efficient design (average 8.2star NatHERS rating) and is powered by a combination of 18kW solar array and green energy. The building harvests rainwater for use in irrigation and common-area toilets.


There is no car parking in the building; residents are committed to using sustainable transport such as cycling, car sharing, public transport, or Uber. Each dwelling includes a minimum of two bicycle parking spaces as well as extra visitor parking. Nightingale 1 is located on the Upfield bike path, further encouraging the uptake of active transport. 

Apartments exclude features such as private laundries and second bathrooms to maintain affordability, instead opting for excellent shared facilities and amenity. Planting is incorporated throughout the building including extensive landscaping and productive planter beds on the rooftop, as well as a central light well planted with established ferns.


The community


Nightingale Housing facilitates an active process of engaging future residents in collaborative, ‘deliberative design’. Due to the large demand, a ballot process was used to select building residents. After forming a building group, Nightingale Housing consulted with future residents on design features and inclusions to ensure that apartments better meet the needs of their owner occupiers.


The Nightingale 1 community is made up of a range of residents, from people aged under 35 to 60+. In addition, future Nightingale projects such as the six buildings in Nightingale Village aim to set aside 20 per cent of units for community housing.


On top of this, a further 20 per cent of homes are allocated to key community contributors (such as key workers who are in fixed low to middle-income positions). This priority ballot also includes individuals with disabilities, full time carers and individuals of Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander descent.


As well as facilitating meaningful and informed resident participation, Nightingale 1 aims to contribute to its local network through the creation of connected communities, active street frontages, and inclusion of values-aligned commercial tenants. The ground floor level is occupied by three values-aligned commercialsuch tenants: Nightingale Housing office, Branch Architects and social enterprise cafe,


Project snapshot
What is shared?
How did it happen?


Nightingale 1 residents share a communal laundry space, working shed, rooftop garden and a secure bicycle store. Residents have access to ground floor commercial spaces and partake in a Green Travel Plan; allowing for the removal of car parking spaces. These shared spaces emerged from the deliberative design process as a way to build community, reduce apartment costs and deliver exceptionally liveable spaces.

The Nightingale model was conceived by a group of award-winning, Melbourne based architects as an alternative to speculative housing. Nightingale’s vision is to deliver triple bottom line housing that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Projects are delivered at cost: that is, a zero profit on-cost financial model with no marketing, display suites or sales expenditure. When Nightingale residents wish to sell, they must first offer their property to those on the waiting list, at a price capped to match the indexed growth of housing in the suburb. This effectively reduces the incentive for speculation.

Nightingale Housing helps to deliver housing at cost. Breathe Architecture, with the support of a small band of investors, bought a block of land across the road from The Commons to deliver Nightingale 1. They could do this with confidence given the extensive waiting list that had developed after the success of The Commons. The apartments are under conventional Strata title.

Nightingale 1 is managed by a resident-run owner’s corporation, similar to a typical apartment building. However, there are some additional requirements and guidelines in place to maintain the sustainability, community-building and affordability goals. These include requirements that cap resale prices, quarterly working bees and an adherence to the council mandated Green Travel Plan levy which incentivises sustainable modes of transport. There are also guidelines on renting that encourage long term leases and recommend caps on annual rents.

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