The clients of our Hopetoun Rd Residence in Toorak wished to retain as much of the 1915 building as possible to avoid the cold modern forms they considered part of the present day architectural speak. They had a deep distrust of the architect’s imprint imposed on their requirements: and thus, potentially risk losing their own sense of self in their own new building. Their fear of ending up with a modern edifice instead of a home, drove their desire to renovate and not rebuild.

Studio Name: B.E Architecture
Design Team: B.E Architecture
Area: Melbourne
Year: 2014
Location: Toorak
Photography Credits: Peter Clarke

Hopetoun Road Residence By B.E ARCHITECTURE - Sheet2
©Peter Clarke

The texture and feel of a period home were to be maintained, whilst the functionality of the new was to be created. This was to be a home for hosting visitors, children and friends and to have areas for both in and outdoor entertainment. It was to be a user-friendly home, where people come before objects and where things could be used and touched on a regular basis.

Referencing historical buildings in the northern hemisphere and working in collaboration with a team of craftspeople, skilled practitioners with the ability to build using traditional techniques, enabled this project. While the building was essentially rebuilt keeping only two of the original side walls and the structural roof line of the original house, the choice of detail and materials used feel more like a renovation of an older building- this approach meeting the client’s apprehensions.

Hopetoun Road Residence By B.E ARCHITECTURE - Sheet6
©Peter Clarke

The original two storey was re shaped and finished in polished render and painted masonry using a traditional palette which was contrasted by a copper clad pavilion being the contemporary intervention. There is a clear delineation between what feels original and what feels new and added.

The significance of the materials used and what they symbolise is very important in B.E’s work. Each element has been evaluated against each other, so the end result, whilst being contemporary, has a sense of time and history imbued in the building with a mood one often feels in older homes. The team of craftspeople tooled handmade steel windows, folded aged copper and painted flush struck brickwork which made the new-old. The same emphasis was applied to the interiors everything essentially being restructured, upgraded and essentially rebuilt in a careful considered manner.

Hopetoun Road Residence By B.E ARCHITECTURE - Sheet7
©Peter Clarke

To all intents and purposes, the house which draws on our northern neighbours, looks more like an older house more often found in Belgium than in urban Melbourne, however, the shimmering blue pool sparkling in the backyard returns one back to Australia. The building is informed by a sense of history without any duplications of the old world.


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