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.
St Vincents Place Residence is positioned in a row of Victorian houses, which creates isolation from heat and cooling along both sides. The two storey veranda has an extended eave to the western façade. The building has increased performance wall, ceiling and floor insulation as well as in slab heating. It uses 5 low voltage thermofans to minimise the occupant’s reliance on air-conditioning. Windows in the bedrooms use double glazing. Ten banks of solar vacuum tubes were installed on the roof to collect hot water which is stored underground to reduce use of gas to heat the pool and hydronic heating through the house. Rainwater is collected in large underground tanks for all onsite gardens. The three storey house has a series of internal courtyards which create cross ventilation and the roof top terraces create a chimney effect to naturally draw the air from the house in summer.
Buildings physical configuration was a huge plus from the outset. Large section of the building contained on its two body’s by other buildings, isolated from the heat and cold with a two storey veranda/ Eave to the western façade.
The building was insulated at all levels, floors, ground floor ceilings, second floor ceiling and roof.
Thermos fans were installed in all roofs 5 in total which are low voltage and use very little power to minimise the occupants reliance on air conditioning. Ceiling vents let the rising warm air into the roof cavity from where it is expelled by the fans which are run by a glow switch so occupants are always aware when it is on or not
All windows were double glazed with flyscreens to all bedrooms.
10 banks of Appricus solar vacuum Tubes were installed on the roof to collect Hot water which was stored in huge underground tanks to minimise reliance on gas to heat the pool and hydronic heating system in the house.
Rain water is collected in large underground tanks for all of the onsite gardens
The house is for levels with a roof top garden on two levels and when the doors are opened it creates a chimney effect and draws the air from the house in summer as a natural chimney effect
In pushing a new typology for housing that is about an enduring quality, the cost effectiveness is forward thinking, considering the life cycle of the project. In addition to pushing timeless materiality, the project is an investment in local trades and suppliers and the places value on those unique assets.
Collaboration / Allied disciplines:
The multidisciplinary team addressed all elements of lighting, interiors and landscaping including many custom designed pieces of furniture. The design does not accept the limitations of a standard terrace house but creates new solutions to explore what is possible in the urban context. The team worked closely with the engineers to develop a commercial solution to support the existing house and allow the addition of the new basement.