TheUrbanDeveloper.com interviewed Neometro founder and design director Jeff Provan in relation to various aspects of modern apartment design. Neometro has established a reputation as one of Melbourne’s most design-focused and socially led development groups.
1. What are the pros and cons of the modern apartment?
The pros are that apartments can be affordable, well-located with high quality amenities,
secure and low maintenance.
For many people, this outweighs the cons, which are that they’re smaller than houses (you
can work around this with quality design) and that high-density living can create congestion,
which can be solved by building near existing infrastructure and providing apartments with
2. What makes good apartment design and how can you get the most out of a small
Apartment design goes beyond a requirement for stylish cabinetry and fashionable finishes
and fixtures. The space must work as hard as it can to offer the best amenity and efficiency
before you even consider applied elements.
The core criteria for good apartment interior design is well considered internal planning and
providing all the functionality and liveability of a house, albeit within a smaller space. It is
crucial that every nook and square meter of floor space be utilised, but without cramming.
Quality construction and materials are also critical to good apartments. It’s about longevity
and standing the test of time and not creating or passing a maintenance liability onto the
At our latest Fitzroy project, George Corner, we’ve designed apartments that minimise
corridor areas in favour of larger flexible living spaces and bedrooms that can comfortably
accommodate queen-sized beds.
The apartments come with thoughtful features, such as study nooks and recharge stations
for electronic devices, concealed reverse cycle heating and cooling units, and ample kitchen
These elements work well, as they are integrated into the overall planning, and not random
additions that compromise the space.
3. Have you noticed any changes in the way people use their rooms?
Technology has changed the way people use certain rooms in the home, and we’ve taken
this into account at George Corner (i.e. electronic device charging stations, multipurpose
kitchen benches, allowance for a downstairs cafe that acts as a second dining room/office,
Further, we know that kitchens these days need to be practical and useable, as people are
cooking for entertaining within their apartment, so that portion of the apartment is always a
strong selling point.
4. Neometro tends not to focus on facilities such as residents’ pools and gyms. Is that
Generally, pools or gyms have not been appropriate or necessary for the scale of our
We try to provide spaces that people want to live in and not focus on the added ‘bells and
whistles’ that sometimes distract from the apartments. Ultimately those costs are instead put
into the apartment services and infrastructure, rather than building facilities.
In saying that, creating a sense of community and ownership of the building is a great thing,
as it is the owners who become proud of the building and take care of it.
5. What are some examples of where developers have got it right and why?
We think we got it right at George Corner. It’s an appropriate scale of development, it stands
proud on the corner and the façade is looking great as the detail and crafted elements come
The apartments all work well, thanks to their efficient layouts and ample natural light. Most
are north facing with expansive views over Fitzroy, and all feature understated interiors with
subtle details, such as custom joinery pulls and tactile door handles that make the space feel
I think there are more and more ‘good guys’ popping up in the marketplace, who are trying
to raise the bar overall for development. Kalex and Milieu are doing some thoughtful
developments and clever place making initiatives. Similarly the Assemble / Fieldwork guys
are great advocates and it will be good to see their developments come to fruition.
6. Who are your three favourite architects or designers?
Carlo Scarpa, Tadao Ando and Luis Barragon.
7. What is the most pressing policy issue facing your industry?
Better amenity and quality of apartments as opposed to a prescriptive size, which often
depends on the likely end user.
Also, renters are becoming more astute in their choices and the market will hopefully
demand better amenity, such as natural light, sunlight and shading, acoustic insulation, and
Good apartment design has the power to positively impact on residents’ mental health.
That’s why we focus on creating spaces where people want to live, and where they enjoy
8. What drives you – has there been someone or something that has inspired your career?
Our team’s commitment to design and quality may mean that a project takes a little longer or
costs more, but the integrity of our product is key – not just to us, but to the person living
and using the space at the other end.