Monday 25 November 2019

Property Council Retirement Living National Design Award Winner for 2019 - The Benson, Toorak

The Benson Toorak has been awarded the Property Council of Australia National Retirement Living Design Award 2019.  The jury citation noted that:

'The Benson is an outstanding example of how the next generation of retirement communities are confronting the dual challenge of demand driven by demography, and tightening supply of suitable land in established areas with ageing communities.  Located on smaller sites, they must address the higher levels of sensitivity around development in these established areas, while meeting the technical requirements for these complex integrated developments.  The Benson shows how these challenges can be met, while delivering a substantial community dividend'.

This project was the best kind of community effort.  The project helped fund the restoration of a church, created a new community of residents, and funded a new community facility for the wider parish.

The team at the St Peter’s parish is to be commended for their vision, in particular Father Brendan Hayes, John Ralph AC, and Anthony Prowse.

Together with the other members of the initiating committee, they had the foresight to see this development as something that is more than just a building.

They saw it as a collegiate style of environment that provided a setting for parish’s much loved Gothic church.

They also fully supported the need for a complex that respected and built on the character of the surrounding area.

Thanks to their persistence, the vision has been achieved, and we're pleased to see this acknowledged with the Property Council Award.  We thank the Property Council and the awards jury for this honour.

Notes About the Award

The Property Council of Australia National Retirement Living National Design Award is the premier Australian award recognizing design in this sector, drawing from a shortlist of recently completed retirement developments across Australia.  In 2019, 8 developments were shortlisted from the field of submissions:

The Benson, 585 Toorak Road, Toorak, Victoria
The Patrick's Green, Kogorah, 40 Chapel Street, Kogorah, NSW
The Terraces Paddington, 74 Brown Street, Paddington, NSW
Carmelite, 7 Spence Avenue, Myrtle Bank, South Australia
The Residences at Cardinal Freeman, 137 Victoria Street, Ashfield, NSW
Stockland's Shine Birtinya, 3 Reflection Crescent, Birtinya, QLD
Aveo Bella Vista, 28 Norbrik Drive, Bella Vista, NSW
The Central by Goodwin, 20 Galore Street, Crace, ACT

Thursday 14 September 2017

This blog explores ways of thinking about the relationship between architecture and urban environments.  The title Components of Place provides a starting point- thinking about architecture not so much as autonomous objects imposed on an environment but elements that serve the city, enhancing its sense of public and private habitability and reflecting the civility of a cooperative and well functioning society.

Reinforcing Urban Character in Toorak Road

The Benson is a boutique retirement apartment complex developed on land adjoining the St Peters Catholic church.  Initiated by the Armadale and Toorak Parish, the project also includes development of new parish facilities and is occurring in parallel with restoration of the stonework of the church.  The end result of the development will be a coherent, almost collegiate complex of buildings linked by a courtyard space- a complex that thoughtfully responds to the broader urban environment.

We analysed the immediate area around the church complex, an area largely defined by some fine interwar apartment buildings, including a distinguished row extending up to the corner of St George’s Road.

These present a picturesque streetscape largely defined by prominent and steeply pitched terra cotta roofs punctuated with the dominant vertical accents of tall chimneys, with a mix of styles from...

...Old English inspired arts and crafts to....

... Mediterranean influenced styles. 

Apart from the common roof material, deep eaves overhangs and textured and detailed wall surfaces (mainly rendered) link these styles together into an attractive street boundary.

 We reflected the lively roof forms of these neighbours in the new building, at the same time responding to the picturesque asymmetric massing of the late Gothic church.  The language of the new building blends and arts and crafts influences to the Toorak Road frontage, featuring a characteristic palette of roughcast render, terra cotta shingle roofs, expressed rafters and lining boards, detailed label mould trims and a quatrefoil decorative motif to porches and parapets.

The building layers back into the site to open up sightlines from Toorak Road towards the church, and the courtyard formed between the church and the building frames a vista crossed by a pergola arbour and terminated with a façade pavilion featuring a bay window, and a steep gable framed by stone corbels.  The sequence of elements draws the eye into the space, a series of related elements at various depths within the courtyard view.

The northern pavilion blends the language of the Toorak Road pavilion with more classical proportions.  We retained similar materials but introduced some face brickwork to assist in articulating the building mass.

At the time of writing the building construction is well underway, with the silhouette of the building form now emerging and its relationship to its neighbours increasingly apparent.

We look forward to providing further updates as this landmark building nears completion.

Monday 28 August 2017

Components of Place: Urban Repair in Malvern East

Component based design connects contemporary design practice to timeless ways of making coherent urban environments.  This approach treats buildings as the servants of these places, aggregating to create the consistent 'walls' of the city's urban 'rooms'- the streets, junctions and squares.  The constituent components of this architecture need to lend these public spaces human scale, tactile detail and an engaging sense of habitability.

So how does this approach work in a degraded urban environment in suburban Melbourne?

Our project at 1919 Malvern Road demonstrates, we think, some of these aspirations.  From the outset, we understood that the surrounding area was a place in transition, from a low scale local shopping area to a mixed use zone, where a scale of up to 4 storeys was permitted and even encouraged.  In thinking about our response, we addressed this change, but considered future possibilities.  If we aspire to restore urban quality, how could we set an example that would encourage adjoining land owners to think outside the boundaries of their site, and to offer something more to the public realm when redevelopment was contemplated?

This pictorial essay outlines our thought process, and suggests ways in which this area, Darling Junction, might be improved, even as the density of development increases.  This will require future development to be designed with strong attention to street level quality- and a component based design approach supports such an aim.

Darling Junction, c. 1930.  The area is very typical of interwar Melbourne suburban development, comprised of zero lot line shops serving surrounding residential areas.  Our research unearthed this period flyer, with photos showing the original urban character- shops with a classical and arts and crafts derived style.

Situation prior to commissioning: the urban structure is broken down by modernist development (petrol stations and garages) and low quality commercial buildings.  Some of the older interwar shops survive, but the area lacks coherence.  Click on the image to view this and subsequent images as a slideshow.

Concept for the new building: mixed use with office space on ground and first floors, with two storeys of residential apartments above.  The façade bays relate to the rhythm and width of the older shopfronts.  The expression of habitability is emphasised: shaded terraces, a colonnaded entry, high quality stonework, facade detail and extensive planters provide interest to the street wall and at the street edge.

Concept showing possible urban evolution: reinstate the definition of the street corners to give a sense of vista and urban structure, and reinforce these with human scale components that provide a visual transition to new, larger scale developments.  Smaller facade bays allow for street activation,  and facades are given depth and texture. A density increase with enhancement, rather than degradation, of the public realm.

The completed building.  The development provides a high quality 'anchor' for the future evolution of Darling Junction.

The building evokes the classical proportions and visual depth of the better surrounding buildings, such as the former State Bank building that adjoins it.

The facade is deeply layered to give a sense of habitability: generous protected terraces, shading shutters, restrained facade decoration, cofferered ceilings and textured stone invite closer examination.

Detail of the entry colonnade.  A protected semi public area with bespoke lighting, fine materials and planting add an unexpected civic quality to the adjoining public space.

Monday 12 May 2014

The Architecture of the Clubhouse

Demaine Partnership has an unequalled record in Australia in the design of clubhouses.  This work has principally focussed on golf clubs, and concentrated in Victoria, with new facilities for some of Australia's finest clubs, including the Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Sorrento, Woodlands, and now more recently, Peninsula Kingswood Golf Club.

Creating an outstanding golf club facility is part science, part art, part sociological study.  While it is acknowledged that the origins of golf reside in the UK, the modern game and the flowering of sophisticated clubhouse and course design has its origins in USA.  The so called 'gilded age' of the 1920s in the USA resulted in proliferation of new recreation facilities.  Golf moved from a slightly arcane pass time for an initiated few, to a sport with broad appeal and sophisticated social dimension.

A special feature in the Architectural Forum Magazine of March 1925 devoted 82 pages to exploring the intricacies of the newly emerging discipline of golf clubhouse architecture, then barely 30 years old in America.  The lead article admitted that club member's expectations of the period was for 'fine appointments, luxurious fittings and service akin to that to be found in a metropolitan hotel...' leading to an indictment that golf 'was a game within the reach of the rich alone.'

This the magazine attributed to a rather extravagant attitude of the members of those early clubs.  'If the men who make up the membership of the numerous clubs about the country ran their own businesses as they allow that of their clubs to be run, in a large majority of cases they would shortly be facing bankruptcy proceedings' the magazine observed.

However it also noted a trend to a much more professional and efficient administration of both buildings and courses, and a broadening of the reach of clubs a much wider and less elite audience.

This trend was mirrored in Australia, with many of Victoria's leading clubs having origins in the late nineneenth and early twentieth centuries.  Demaine Partnership was a participant in developing some of those clubs in the post war era, with modern facilities for both Royal Melbourne in the 1960s and later for the Healesville Country Club and Kew Golf Club.  Elements of these facilities remain today, but our redevelopment of the Royal Melbourne facility is emblematic of the shifting expectations of contemporary golf club members for the quality and character of their 'homes'.

Royal Melbourne Golf Club

When we built the Royal Melbourne Golf Club clubhouse in the 1960s it was hailed as an appropriate and modern response that placed the course itself front and centre, with the building being a quite recessive and low key element within this setting.  However by the late 1990s the austere and utilitarian character of 1960s modernism was no longer so appealing.  Older clubs, built in the 1920s, had stood the test of time much better, providing settings that had a sense of tradition and a more elegant relationship with their attractive course settings.  The club set a brief: to create a new facility that would deliver a range of well proportioned and flexible spaces that created a strong sense of arrival and echoed the pre-eminent status of the club itself.

Our design response embodied an understanding of the clubhouse-course relationship as akin to that between a grand formal landscape and a traditional country house: a dialogue where the building framed and anchored the setting, enhancing and enriching it not by trying to disappear, but by entering into a meaningful dialogue.

But a golf clubhouse is much more than just an ornament to an extraordinary landscape, it is a starting point for the event of the game itself, and a finishing point for gathering and socialization.  There is a sequence of activities from the point of arrival, to departure from the course some hours later, that a well designed building can orchestrate and enhance.

In our next posting, we'll talk the sorts of design features needed to enhance that golfing experience, in the context not only of Royal Melbourne Golf Club, but the Demaine Partnership designs that followed it.