THE Forrest Hill precinct in South Yarra (east of the railway station) is being transformed by a succession of high-rise apartments.
The latest ''kid on the block'' is Central South Yarra, designed by architects Rothe Lowman, with interiors by Plus Architecture. One of the largest sites to be developed, over 2000 square metres, Central South Yarra will include 357 apartments spread over 30 levels.
To minimise the scale of this building, Rothe Lowman has inserted a band of gold steel through the centre of the tower, wrapping balconies on the upper levels. Gold steel also makes its presence felt at the entry to the building, with a gold origami-like canopy.
"Our brief was for elegant and sophisticated apartments that would appeal to professionals wanting something quite timeless," says architect Craig Yelland, a director of Plus Architecture. "Our clients [Little Projects] also wanted the best finishes."
The folded gold canopy is further expressed in the double-height lobby. But rather than being made of steel, the manipulated ceiling features timber battens, ''broken'' at points, to allow concealed light to penetrate. Stone walls and floors, with built-in timber benches, appear to emerge from the flooring.
"Our clients wanted us to address each surface. They didn't want to see the usual generic plaster walls," Yelland says.
Central South Yarra comprises one and two-bedroom apartments, starting at 45 square metres and increasing to 78 square metres on average for two bedrooms. There are also two penthouse apartments, one at 400 square metres and the other 220 square metres.
But regardless of size, there is a variety of aspects, from city vistas, views towards the Dandenongs, and bay views from level 12.
"We were extremely fortunate not just to work with these views, but also the amount of natural light," Yelland says. Having balconies for each apartment also makes spaces feel more generous.
The configuration of each apartment varies, but most include either galley-style kitchens or an island bench, delineating kitchens from living areas. Most apartments also include European-style laundries, accessed near the front door, as well as generous storage areas, particularly in bathrooms.
"One of the most important aspects of designing apartments is making each square metre count,'' Yelland says. ''Spaces have to be efficient, even the nooks."
One of the few nooks is in some of the main bedrooms. This nook, which features a floor-to-ceiling window to the terrace, can be used as a study area with sufficient room for a bench and laptop.
While Central South Yarra offers quality apartments, there has also been considerable thought given to the communal facilities with the building. On level 30, for example, there's an indoor swimming pool, a gymnasium and a communal lounge, dining and kitchen area.
Given many of the apartments aren't set up to entertain larger gatherings, Plus Architecture included entertaining facilities on level 30. The dining area, inspired by a cocktail lounge, with booth-like seating, accommodates 10 people comfortably. And so the host feels part of the occasion, the space features a Japanese-style kitchen complete with built-in grill for the island bench.
"The idea is to eat more informally around the bench or book the dining area for special occasions," says Yelland, who included a mesh curtain in the design, to separate the communal lounge from private dining functions.
Plus Architecture was also mindful of creating neutral colour schemes for the apartments, offering a lighter palette of finishes, as well as a more moody option, with hues in charcoals.
"People come to an apartment with all their stuff and have a range of furnishings. The last thing they need to deal with is a lime-green wall that's completely at odds with their aesthetic," Mr Yelland says. "But most will feel like they're living in a five-star hotel."