Project name: The General

Location: Australia

Date completed: November 2017

Architect: C.Kairouz Architects

Interior designer: CoLab Design Studio

Developer: Cedar Group Developments

Construction Company: Valeo Construction

The General is the first residential building in Australia to use photovoltaic glass on a facade, providing high-quality, sustainable architecture in thriving Northcote. C. Kairouz Architects set the precedent early; to achieve a 7.5 star energy rating for The General. They were also adamant on using the Onyx Solar photovoltaic glass provided by Australian distributors, Environmental Technology Solutions (ETS). This new technology, among several other sustainable solutions were put forth by C. Kairouz Architects to the developer and were successfully integrated into the project.

The General’s memorable design is built upon approximately 2087m2 of land size over 6 titles and comprises of 87 apartments across eight storeys with three levels of underground basement to service them. Furthermore, the first two levels are dedicated to mixed-used spaces to accommodate street-frontage restaurants, retail stores and offices. Level 3 sees a large setback carried all the way to the seventh level terrace, perched well above the treeline featuring a communal gym and unhindered views of the CBD.

The development is affectionately labelled The General, the nickname of Kairouz’s father. Built at the former site of the family’s butcher business, the project honours his journey as a migrant to successful Australian business owner. The prominent corner location of the site presents a key design opportunity and the architecture seeks to engage by framing and wrapping the corner in a single feature with a curved secondary facade which is glazed with patterned glass in reference to Kariouz’ father, with a subtle image of a general on a horse. This corner facade can be illuminated to have a beacon-like effect. Viewing the building from the corner of High Street & Bent Street, this feature is juxtaposed by continuous panels of photovoltaic glass bands across the northern facade, and rhythmic bands of horizontal balustrading and glazing on the eastern facade. Both these elements provide good transparency from inside the apartments as well as providing a level of engagement to the street.

The Onyx Solar photovoltaic glass supplied by ETS across northern facade is used as balustrading that covers an area of approximately 130m2. C. Kairouz Architects worked closely with ETS to develop the product to ensure it could be engineered into a sufficient balustrade with adequate strength and resistance to force. As such, it is the first building the Australia to use the product in this way and makes a bold statement on what can be achieved with sustainable solutions in the country. Being the first of its kind in size and sustainable solutions for the area, The General’s generous apartments for comfortable living and energy consumption minimisation strategy is now a precedent for other developments in the area, and it aims to encourage and inspire other sustainable developments in the future.

The aforementioned Onyx Solar photovoltaic glass used across the northern facade is an innovation that required C.Kairouz Architects to work closely with the supplier, ETS to ensure it could be engineered into a structurally sound product for balustrade purposes as well as upholding its primary feature as a source of solar power generation, used to offset the costs of lights and mechanics in the common areas of the building. The General was visualised to be a very exciting structure, to stand the test of time in its design and its use of cutting-edge technology on the facade; a combination which will last numerous years and trending architectural phases. Its energy consumption minimisation strategy is now a precedent for all large-scale developments in the area, achieving a combined average of 7.5-star efficiency rating. Handover was November 2017, and all apartments have been sold.