Thursday, 14 September 2017

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 fa├žade 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.

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