Sydney-based studio B.E Architecture was approached to revamp and extend a Victorian home for an avid art collector.
“As a modern renaissance home, the St Vincents Place Residence is a new archetype developed through a 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. The new extension is a cultural bridge between historical significance and modern progress positioned behind a heritage façade. By embracing the consideration of time, the design response examines the 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. Details typical of older architecture were reworked in the front section of the original building. These details included curved cornices, arched doors, and custom steel fireplaces, none of which are typical in modern construction methodologies but feel at ease within the Victorian frontage. Integral to the details is an authentic demonstration of an exceptional level of craftsmanship, an appreciation of the capacity of mankind. 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 in-situ concrete, terrazzo style stone floors, painted timber ceilings and bluestone walling to create a point of difference from the front. In a rejection of stark minimalism, the classical details are exchanged for rich textures continuing the hand-hewn character throughout the house. The substantial art collection explores topics of philosophy, literature, religion, and even science, which lead the way to intellectual discourse. These overtures are written into the walls such as the three-storey light installation ‘Heaven is a Place Where Nothing Ever Happens by artist Nathan Coley, or the niche installation of the wax sculpture Romeu ‘My Deer’ by artist Berlinde De Bruyckere. As carefully curated as the art collection, the interior 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 historical reference. The individual pieces add to the dialogue of the space, each with its own interesting story about where it comes from or how it was made. 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. Through combining history, art and culture, the St Vincents Place Residence is ultimately a place of rebirth. Whilst simultaneously reviving an exceptional period home, the residence cultivates a place of renewal that elevates its quality of life for the client,” explains B.E Architecture
- Location: Melbourne, Australia
- Date completed: 2017
- Size: 5,190 square feet
- Design: B.E Architecture
- Photos: Derek Swalwell