Melbourne-based architecture firm C. Kairouz Architects recently completed The General, an eight-story building that’s said to be Australia’s first-ever large-scale residential structure to use photovoltaic glass on its facade. Located in the inner-suburb of Northcote in Melbourne, the building comprises 87 apartments as well as mixed-use commercial space on the first two floors. Thanks to photovoltaic glazing as well as a slew of other energy-efficient systems and resource-saving measures, The General has achieved a 7-star energy rating.

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north facade

east facade

Set on a prominent corner lot on Northcote’s bustling High Street, The General takes it name from the nickname of Kairouz’s father, who had formerly owned a butcher business on the project site. The General also references Kairouz’s father in the patterned glass that makes up the curved secondary facade, which features a subtle image of a Victorian general on a horse. This facade is juxtaposed with the continuous bands of Onyx Solar photovoltaic glass that run along the northern facade as well as the horizontal balustrades and glazing on the east facade. All windows are double-glazed and let an abundance of natural light into the apartments.

glazed gym

entrance foyer

“Technically speaking, it displays a solar factor of 10%, making it an ideal candidate to achieve control over the interior temperature,” says C. Kairouz Architects in its project statement. “The product has been proven to yield low-emissivity properties, provide a UV and IR filter, promote natural light, and generate power. Statistically translated, this allows The General to generate 2,075 kWh per year and prevents the release of 1.95 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. This energy may be used for light, power and mechanical equipment in common areas.”

the general interior

exterior entrance

Related: Steven Holl unveils office clad in colorful photovoltaic glass for Doctors Without Borders

In addition to the building’s solar solutions, the architects also emphasized green-centric transit options. The General is located a short walk from a major tram station and from the Northcote shopping complex; 137 bicycle parking spaces were installed in the building’s basement parking garage. The basement also includes a 25,000-liter rainwater tank that collects rainwater runoff, which is then recycled to flush 50 toilets within the building.

+ C. Kairouz Architects

Images by Peter Clarke