At home with Helen and Tim from Jewell Station
In 2016, Helen and Tim began to look into where they would be able to afford a house in Melbourne’s ever bourgeoning property market. Like many, they quickly realised that there was an abyss between what was being advertised and the realities of what homes were actually being sold for. This shifted perspectives entirely and shone a spotlight on the non-negotiable elements they needed from a home.
Tim and Helen knew they wanted to live within the dynamic urban milieu where a strong community connection was nurtured. They knew they prized walkability to public transport and green spaces and that, as architects, they both valued aesthetic and schematic architectural resilience. Their journey ultimately ended in late 2019 when they purchased an apartment in Neometro’s Jewell Station Precinct – a civic-minded development that balances enduring homes within a proud and responsive public realm in the heart of Brunswick.
“At the time, we were looking for something walkable to transport, and places where we could start a family and there would be enough amenities around (doctors, schools, etc.),” says Helen. “We had just seen so many apartment plans, and worked on them in the offices we worked for too, but this one stood out because of the long and skinny site allowing great cross-flow ventilation, and the nearby train station which we knew meant we won’t get built out.”
The couple have since welcomed a baby boy into their family unit. Arlo’s arrival, as well as the altered landscape thanks to COVID-19 has meant their home has been asked to deliver on many fronts. “We’ve adjusted our lives to this apartment,” says Tim of the transition to apartment living. “We’ve made the apartment to work really well,” agrees Helen. “It was great during lockdown as I felt like I didn’t have to go far to be in amongst people. Even when I got really pregnant, it was nice to sit on the balcony and visually stay connected to the community.”
With both of them currently working from home, Helen and Tim had to get creative on how the space would work for them. “We all moved into Arlo’s room!” says Helen. This division of space is not a new one. Traditionally homes were often divided into spaces for eating, spaces for sleeping, spaces for bathing and spaces for togetherness and this is exactly what Helen and Tim have returned to. It means that each room has been perfectly defined to support the rhythm of their particular lives. They have a work space in what was once the master bedroom. A space that they can physically close off after a days work to aid the mental transition to relaxation and family time. Serendipitously, this has lent to the realisation that the social prosperity of the family benefits from the economy of space. “If we had infinite space, we wouldn’t be together,” acknowledges Helen.
While Tim and Helen acknowledge that their architectural backgrounds helped them see the superior offering in Neometro’s apartments (things like passive heating and cooling thanks to the cross-flow ventilation, and the existence of communal spaces meaning you never feel cut off from neighbours) there were two overarching factors that informed their decision to purchase at Jewell Station. The first was Neometro’s investment in the train station entry and overall public realm outside. “Because the development was on the train line and Neometro had funded upgrades to the train station entry we felt better about giving our money to a developer that would contribute to the urban design and public realm,” says Helen. For Tim, a close second came down to the apartments themselves – “we knew the interior materials wouldn’t be trend based but would be more enduring,” he says, “I like the wear in wear out mantra and the utilitarian nature of the materials because there is a beauty to them.”