Brick inlay provides a strong base to support independent living at Tao Home


Image: Robertson Facade Systems

Tao Home is a unique independent-living residential project by Sunbright Development Australia in Melbourne’s Box Hill. Hayball is the creative team behind its design, which was developed in response to the demand within the Chinese community for unique ways for buyers to live together as an extended family, focusing on retirement features for senior residents.


While chiefly targeted towards buyers of Chinese origin, this mixed-use, multi-generational model is attractive to all ethnicities and backgrounds. The 80, one, two and three-bedroom apartments are self contained with shared entrances, so residents can live close to their families while maintaining privacy. Dual-key apartments, combining a one-bedroom apartment with a studio, further allow different generations to live together with independence. Eugene Chieng, Director, Hayball, says although Chinese-Australians want to look after their parents, they don’t necessarily want to live with them, explaining, “it’s a way to keep them close, but not too close.”



Image: Robertson Facade Systems

Renowned for innovation and design excellence, Hayball’s creative touch to this development doesn’t disappoint. Tao home is already making its mark in Box Hill with its striking façade, which includes a strong base of brick inlay panels for the podium and a series of multi-coloured Vitrapanel cladding for the upper levels, referencing the small unit scale of the existing buildings.


“The idea was to have a strong brick base to lower the building’s centre of gravity and combine that with a much lighter-weight structure on the upper levels to break down the mass, and create a good connection to the context,” Ian Khoo, Associate, Hayball explains.


Iron Mountain brick tiles on the podium and a filigree of three toned Vitrapanel cladding have delivered a warm palette complementing the surrounding buildings. “The warmer browns, greys and red-greys of the brick tiles tied in with the idea of having a soft lightness – playing down the bulk of the rest of the building … We managed to get a warmth to the façade and reduce the perception of bulk,” Ian comments.


What makes the brick podium so interesting is its staggered windows, which don’t follow a standard repeat on every floor, and go through multiple floors. A number of striking brick piers are broken up with small punctuations, helping to maintain interest, while creating solidity and scale. And the overall result is immaculate. As Ian says, “There’s a real cleanness to the brick tiles and when Sunbright Development saw them, they were really pleased, it’s very neat.”


Of course, constructing the brick podium well required a robust and proven brick inlay system to reproduce the offset pattern of the windows (which required no lintels). Robertson Façade System’s brick inlay system more than met the task, while offering a cost-effective solution that offers ease and speed in construction.


Immaculate design detailing follows inside, each apartment equipped with Chinese satellite TV, universal power plugs for Chinese appliances, a kitchen range hood for Chinese stir-frying, and optional joinery on the balcony for a wet kitchen (common in Asian homes). Tao Home also offers a traditional Chinese wellbeing centre and an area for playing Mah-jong.


And true to the development’s objective, “A number of design features cater specifically for the ageing market, such as a walking track and productive landscape on the rooftop, so residents can grow vegetables and keep active. Seats and grab rails are provided in bathrooms and there’s an emergency call system available, like those used in retirement villages,” Eugene comments


Sunbright Development is exceptionally happy with the end result, especially with the brick inlay façade. And when you work with a talented design team who develops a creative and carefully considered design, while pioneering accommodation that offers different ways of family living, it’s not surprising at all.





Designer: Hayball

Product: Brick Inlay, using Iron Mountain brick tiles

Developer: Sunbright Development Australia

Builder: Valeo

Precaster: Euro Precast

Photography: Courtesy Henry Lam, Hayball (except where indicated)


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