Atherton Gardens Social Housing and Hub Development


  • McCabe Architects and Bird de la Coeur Architects
  • Department of Human Services


The Atherton Gardens Social Housing and Hub development comprises 152 managed energy-efficient affordable rental apartments, youth support services, maternal and child health facilities, retail and childcare centre for 120 children.

The project is a partnership bringing together all levels of government, the Federal, State and the local municipal council, the City of Yarra. Throughout the project all participants tested ways that architecture can contribute in a positive way to managed social housing.

An emphasis was placed on high standards of design, amenity, access to sunlight, views and facilities that facilitate interaction within the public housing estate and the broader community.

Key Features


The careful mix of uses – and siting the building directly on Brunswick Street – purposefully draws the wider community into the estate.

The design interprets the Victorian typolgy by providing a formal front façade and a lively, articulated, colouful ‘backyard’ treatment. The innovative woven patterned brickwork responds to the Fitzroy context. To the north and east facades projecting apartments have brightly coloured seraphic glass balconies on smooth precast concrete panels creates an exciting, informal domesticity. All materials were chosen for their low-maintenance and associated sustainability benefits. Residents are provided with a safe, desirable and stimulating living environment.


Five percent of the apartments are DDA compliant and twenty percent are adaptable providing for those with disabilities.
The Atherton Gardens HUB provides affordable social housing for lower income people in the City of Yarra, where currently 1% of the available rental housing is classed as affordable. Throughout the project, all stakeholders tested ways that architecture can make a difference and contribute in a positive way to the provision of social housing of a high standard.


An innovative construction system incorporating our woven, patterned brickwork design allowed for prefabrication of concrete panels and modulised construction. Completed panels were craned into position without the need for scaffold, thereby reducing the construction period, cost and increasing site safety. The finished panels have a \’warm\’ fabric-like appearance and are extremely long life and low maintenance benefits.

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