An Australian multi-residential property development that’s created with housing affordability, good design, and environmental sustainability at its forefront is sadly considered to come from ‘left field,’ hence this new Melbourne apartment building’s name.
Leftfield designed by Kennedy Nolan is one of 15 buildings in Australia to be completed under the Nightingale Housing model. The social enterprise turned not-for-profit organisation develops housing designed by leading architects that fosters social connection, and promotes financial and environmental sustainability.
Up to 20 per cent of Nightingale homes are allocated to community housing providers, and a further 20 per cent are designated through priority balloting to key community contributors (such as teachers, nurses, social workers); individuals with a disability; carers; single women aged 55 and over; and First Nations people.
All Nightingale homes are sold with a resale caveat that ensures their maximum resale price cannot exceed the price it was purchased for, plus the percentage increase of the median house price in its location. This resale price restriction is intended to deter speculation upon the margin between the sale price and the market value.
Six Nightingale buildings — including Leftfield designed by Kennedy Nolan — make up The Village. This vibrant new community on a formerly industrial street in Brunswick, in Melbourne’s inner north spans 203 homes across six buildings, each designed by a leading architecture firm.
Architect Ronan Reid and urban planner Elissa McMillan had only been dating for a few months when they first attended a Leftfield information session. The couple were so inspired by the project, they left the meeting firmly imagining their future life in the building. ‘After hearing Rachel Nolan speak, I think our heads were buzzing! The design was gorgeous [and] the principles aligned with ours,’ says Ronan.
Elissa and Ronan entered the ballot to purchase one of the coveted Kennedy Nolan-designed apartments, and moved into the completed Leftfield building in 2022 when their son Finn was on the way. ‘We consider ourselves very fortunate to have the opportunity and means to live here. We certainly didn’t expect to be able to own a thoughtfully-designed apartment in Brunswick,’ says Ronan.
Among Ronan and Elissa’s neighbours are production manager Alice Gascoyne and Will Evans who live on the fifth floor.
Alice and Will had never heard of Nightingale until a friend entered the ballot for Skye House (also in The Village) and the couple quickly followed suit. ‘We weren’t actively looking but after living in sharehouses for the last decade, Nightingale was an appealing and affordable option,’ says Will.
The couple and their dog now live in a two-bedroom Leftfield apartment that they’ve reworked into a one-bedroom space, with a dedicated lounge room, and a separate dining area.
’We have a dog, so we were wary of the adjustment going from a large rental with a big backyard to a fifth-storey apartment, but she seems happy and more social than ever,’ says Alice.
What makes Leftfield so special is Nightingale’s principles, paired with Kennedy Nolan’s thoughtful design. The apartments have the same character and attention to detail as one the acclaimed practice’s bespoke homes, with design details including terrazzo, brass, cork, timber, coloured joinery, and deep kitchen benches.
‘We love the richness and warmth of the palette above all else — something that Kennedy Nolan have an eye for. You can feel all the colours and materials have been carefully considered,’ says Alice. ‘The design of the apartment and public spaces all have a playfulness to them, which seems to set these homes apart from the rest.’
Perhaps above all, residents say they appreciate the sense of community that Leftfield fosters. Generous communal spaces include a thriving rooftop garden designed by Amanda Oliver Gardens and a new public park developed at the foot of The Village.
‘We have a beautiful apartment that doesn’t cost a lot to run, where we know all our neighbours, in a suburb we love,’ says Ronan. ‘When Finn was born, we were overwhelmed with food, little clothes, and offers of babysitting from our Village neighbours. We feel very lucky to live here.’
Alice adds, ‘It’s just a nice thing to know your neighbours and have friends in the area. Everyone is really supportive and communal and keen to lend a hand, or an onion!’
Kennedy Nolan’s second Nightingale Housing building, Umarkoo Wayi, is currently under construction in Coburg, with some remaining apartments still available to purchase.