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Arkadia Apartments

Case study

Heralded as one of the largest recycled brick buildings in Australia, the Arkadia development for Defence Housing Australia occupies a 5,590-m² site in the growing inner-city suburb of Alexandria, NSW. The development has been carefully integrated into the surrounding streets in a way that enhances the neighbourhood while offering a compelling model for urban living.

Acknowledging the historic narrative and heritage of this site was the starting point for the design team that comprised DKO Architecture, Breathe Architecture and landscape architects, Oculus.

Smaller, better communities

The monumental and curvilinear forms of Arkadia were inspired by the notion of community at ground level. Focusing on communal, sun-soaked spaces to the north, Arkadia encourages a connection to the local community through extensive gathering spaces and small-scale entrances. Landscaped through-links and an integrated public pocket park seek to give something back to the wider community. These spaces encourage chance meetings across the site while maintaining key pedestrian links to Sydney Park and beyond.

Arkadia is cleverly composed so that each of the buildings houses micro-communities with only 7 to 8 apartments on each level. Each building is serviced by a dedicated lift.

'We firmly believe that smaller communities are better communities. When you have more than 12 neighbours you start to lose that personal feel. It is exactly the same as getting to know your neighbours that live on the same street,' observes DKO Principal, Koos de Keijzer.

Residents have access to communal vegetable gardens and a rooftop recreational area complete with BBQ facilities, which aggregates a tight-knit community and encourages social interaction.

Sustainability and good design

A checklist of sustainability features ensures that Arkadia minimises its environmental footprint. This extends from an architecturally designed chook run, plentiful bike spaces and drought-tolerant planting, to world-class, weather-sensitive design and air reticulation. The dominant material of recycled bricks references the site’s brickworks history from the 1870s. It also provides a thermally efficient envelope while championing the use of recycled materials in large construction projects.

The design team has incorporated a diverse range of apartment typologies. There is a mixture, from studios through to 3-bedroom apartments and terraces, plus adaptable plans that guide the creation of a truly mixed community. Arkadia heralds a new wave of residential development that brings together the best of community, sustainability, and good design.

Project type

Mid-rise apartment




  • Aboriginal Country: Gadigal
  • Suburb: Alexandria
  • LGA: City of Sydney

Development details

  • Developer: Defence Housing Australia
  • Site area (m2): 5,590
  • Land use zoning: R1 - General Residential
  • Number of storeys: 6
  • Number of homes in new development: 152
  • Number of homes prior to development: None - warehouse


Completed 2019


  • 2020 NSW Architecture Awards – Sustainability – Award
  • 2020 NSW Architecture Awards – Peoples’ Choice – Award