The latest happenings in the Melbourne property market. For our Essays and The Secret Agent Report, see our Research page.

Category Archives For: Architecture

Inner Melbourne’s Smallest and Largest Apartments


Inner Melbourne’s apartments are getting tinier with each new development. But, how small is small? Secret Agent’s updated apartment index reveals that the average size of a 1 bedroom apartment is only 47sqm, and for the more popular 2 bedroom apartment the average size is 73sqm.

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Inner Melbourne’s Most Affordable and Expensive Apartments


Secret Agent has updated its price per square metre index for secondary apartments in inner Melbourne. An additional 478 apartments have been added to the index so that it now consists of a total of 870 apartments which have sold between 1st January 2016 to 30th June 2016. The new average square metre rate for apartments in inner Melbourne is $8,679/sqm.

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The Secret Agent Report – Recreating Period Homes

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report!

The original period homes that remain in Melbourne are frequently purchased for record-setting prices. It is difficult to quantify the value of character, however it is possible to estimate how much these houses are truly worth if we were to build them from scratch today.

This month, Secret Agent investigates the cost of rebuilding two period homes in inner Melbourne. We demonstrate that the prices paid for period property fairly represent the quality, history and scarcity of these types of homes in today’s market

Start reading this report by clicking on the link below:

Register to receive our report monthly and access the Recreating Period Homes report now!

The Secret Agent Report – Urban Spaces

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report!

Cities with dynamic streetscapes make inner city living attractive to many, and inevitably stimulate the growth of property prices as demand becomes greater. Arguably, what makes a city liveable is the quality of its public spaces.

As Melbourne’s city apartments continue to grow in number, and yet shrink in size, it is important that we maintain the desirability of public, shared spaces for mutual enjoyment.

This month, Secret Agent wanted to find out what differentiates a great urban space from the rest.

Start reading this report by clicking on the link below:

Register to receive our report monthly and access the Urban Spaces report now!


Horizontal-Travelling Elevators


In the early 20th century it would have been hard to visualise our current urban landscape full of skyscrapers, cars and elevated walkways. Almost 100 years later, it is just as difficult to picture what our future cities will look like.

A glimpse at some of the projects in developmental stages would suggest that we have a lot to look forward to. Take for example what is being achieved with one of the most significant, yet restrictive, elements of modern architecture: elevators.

The concept of the elevator was invented in the Middle Ages. It wasn’t until 1854 that a safety mechanism was designed that would prevent these lifts from falling if the hoisting rope broke. Skyscrapers could then become a possibility, and for the next 150 years or so, elevators would continue to become a staple part of multi-storey buildings. Without any further innovation, the elevator would remain a cable-hoisted box in a single, linear shaft, forcing buildings to comply with its limitations.

Enter ThyssenKrupp, a German industrial group who has developed the horizontal elevator. In 2014, ThyssenKrupp revealed their Multi elevator technology to the world. Using magnetic levitation technology (the same way Bullet trains are powered), the Multi lift system remains cable-free and is not limited to one elevator shaft. These elevators are free to move vertically and horizontally, with multiple units operating within the same shafts. The result is a more efficient transportation system inside and even between buildings.

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Lessons from Jan Gehl



For the fifth consecutive year, Melbourne has been named the world’s most liveable city by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual survey. While the ranking is based on a range of factors such as healthcare, culture, education and infrastructure, Secret Agent believes that Melbourne’s success is due to thoughtful urban design.

We owe it to Jan Gehl, the Danish architect and urban designer who worked together with Melbourne City Council in the early 1990s to transform the city from, in his own words, “neutron-bombed, not a soul – not even a cat”, into a place for people. Much of our laneway culture and outdoor dining today can be attributed to Gehl’s visionary thinking and humanistic approach to urban design.

Three main principles can be drawn from Gehl’s work:

1. Design the city at 5km/h

Cities had always been designed for people, who move at a modest speed of about 5km/h, up until the boom of the automobile in the 1960s. New cities were then designed at 60km/h – wider, further apart, less accessible by foot. Gehl’s intervention in Melbourne applied the human scale of the older, 5km/h cities, giving birth to our laneway culture that is now inseparable from the city’s identity. Narrow, dense and brimming with life, there is a certain magic that comes with compact spaces.

Thanks to Gehl and planning changes, Melbourne CBD has gained 20 hectares of footpaths over 15 years. Designing walkable urban spaces encourages people to do so, resulting in a healthier population. Think about how far a person has to walk to get from A to B; is it a comfortable distance? If it necessarily becomes a lengthy walk, can it be a safe, pleasant and eventful journey?

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The Secret Agent Report – The Beauty of Symmetry

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report! This month, Secret Agent investigated the relationship between symmetry, beauty and value. We dove into the history of beauty and carried out studies to determine if better looking façades in fact attract a premium compared to less attractive ones.

Start reading this report by clicking on the link below:

Register to receive our report monthly and access the Beauty of Symmetry report now!

The Beauty of Symmetry Report

Melbourne’s Building Styles – The Guide

“It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”
– Paul Cezanne

When searching for a property to move into or to customise for your own needs, an understanding of the building styles available is paramount. Each town has a history, which helped to form its built fabric.

We have put together this guide to help you understand the history of Inner Melbourne. When you find your blank canvas, remember to take the rough with the smooth, and we hope this helps you find some inspiration!


Create is a division within Secret Agent that delivers personalised inspired habitats, for your home, investment property or office.


Site Access

If you are looking to buy a home (or site) to renovate, extend or build afresh, an often overlooked factor is site access. In Melbourne’s inner suburbs our tight Victorian era subdivisions and attached housing can make getting materials and people to the job site a exercise in frustration. This everyday ‘friction’ on site can add considerable cost to any renovation or extension.

When undertaking the typical renovation on an early victorian attached terrace in Fitzroy (new living, dining, central bathroom and kitchen) poor site access can add in excess of $50,000  to the cost of the build.

Site Access

Perhaps the worst case example would be at attached terrace in the inner suburbs where there is no ROW or rear lane access – located in an area where parking is tight. From the very start of the building process (the demolition) there are on site complications.

It’s often difficult to find a place for a skip bin on the property and council permits have to be arranged to place the bin on the street. Debris are then carried through the existing house via wheelbarrow or material conveyor.

It’s these kind of scenarios where a skilled and organised builder can make a world of difference as to how smoothly the job runs. When faced with a challenging site, be sure to discuss any access issues with the builder before they finalise their quote.

Some things to consider when looking to purchase a renovation candidate;

  • The street, is it narrow?
  • Is the parking free, metered or permit?
  • Is there a place to accept deliveries of materials outside the front of the property (nature strip)?
  • Are there mature trees in the vicinity (impeding possible crane or large vehicle access)?
  • Is there a fire hydrant, power pole, telecommunications pit or other infrastructure outside the site?
  • Is the site flat or is there a significant fall that will make materials handling difficult?
  • Are the neighbours properties likely to impede access in any way?

This advice not only applies to detached properties but also apartments. If you are buying in an older apartment building and looking to renovate the kitchen and bathroom you could be in for a surprise. In older buildings sometimes the lifts are too small to bring construction materials up – the only way is the stairs. If access to an apartment is poor, it can add over 20% to the cost of a kitchen and bathroom renovation.