Location: Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia
Architects: B.E Architecture
Photography: © Derek Swalwell
As a modern renaissance home, the St Vincents Place Residence is a new archetype developed through reinterpretation of classical references with a modern sensibility. The client, as a patron, put his belief in architecture, artists and artisans to create a nourishing environment that goes beyond surface treatments by inscribing contemplative experiences into the physical form.
Positioned behind a significant heritage façade, the new extension is a cultural bridge between historical significance and modern progress. Embracing the consideration of time, the design response examines pinnacles of architecture and design throughout history. It recreates original elements that extract and expand upon qualities of substance, inspired by those that are proven to span the test of time. Although the majority of the home is a new building, it is not immediately recognisable as such.
The reworking of older-style details in the front section of the original building, include curved cornices, arched doors and custom steel fireplaces, which are not typical modern construction methodologies, but feel at ease within the Victorian frontage. Integral to the details is an authentic demonstration of unusual level of craftsmanship, an appreciation of the capacity of man-kind. Even the smallest of details, like the hand-stained dovetail joints along the timber skirting, are deserving of a moment’s reflection.
The modern counterpart in the rear extension uses insitu concrete, terrazzo style stone floors, painted timber ceilings and bluestone walling to create a point of difference from the front. Rejecting stark minimalism, the classical details are exchanged for rich textures continuing the hand-hewn character throughout the house.
Leading the way to intellectual discourse, the substantial art collection explores topics of philosophy, literature, religion and even science. At moments these are literally written into the walls, such as the three storey light-well built around the lightwork Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens by artist Nathan Coley and the niche installation of the wax sculpture Romeu ‘my deer’ by artist Berlinde De Bruyckere.
As carefully curated as the art collection, the interiors for the house is an eclectic mix covering diverse cultural references across many eras. Many of the rooms are positioned around knowledge, encasing collections of books on expansive shelves and using them as a centrepiece within the custom coffee table in the living room.
A refined, casual aesthetic is created, incorporating unique vintage pieces sourced from Europe and Asia as a direct historic reference. Each piece adds to the dialogue of the space with exotic and interesting stories of when or where they are from or how they were created. Many of the pieces are one-of-a-kind designs by B.E Architecture, commissioned expressly for this project, pushing the artisanal character of the architectural detailing into the furniture.
Combining history, art and culture, the St Vincents Place Residence is ultimately a place of rebirth, simultaneously reviving an exceptional period home and cultivating a place of renewal that elevates quality of life for the client.
All images courtesy of B.E Architecture |© Derek Swalwell
Led by directors Broderick Ely, Jonathon Boucher And Andrew Piva, the B.E architecture team is young, dynamic and multicultural, with a range of personal interests and specialities.
Members of the firm work closely with their clients, builders and individual contractors to ensure that the building expresses the client it was built for and everything needed is in its place. The designs are quiet, yet strong creating a response that is appropriate to its surroundings with attention to materiality that ensures projects will continue to improve over the passage of time.
With more than 20 years of practice, B.E architecture has built a body of work in various locations around Australia, with international commissions currently under development.
16 Cecil Place
Prahran VIC 3181