LocationMelbourne Victoria, Australia
Architecture: United Places boutique hotel demonstrates an architectural response of intense refinement and precision having created 3 levels of hotel accommodation and two floors of restaurant working to a set of rigorous site constraints.
The tracery of the Botanic Gardens plane trees, and the desire to primarily focus the occupants’ connection to view from within, led to an architectural outcome echoing and enhancing the compelling play of shadow and light across the finely articulated façade.
The references to brutalist architecture are deliberate, reflecting an intent to create a building of obvious permanence juxtaposed with a jewel like quality of refinement in its fine bronze detailing.
Designed as an elegant, discreet blackened wall of steel fins, the ground floor entrance is stripped of ornamentation and superfluous detail, instead relying on a minimal, elemental palette of black metal blades, bronze metal screening and raw board formed concrete; a highly precise composition of materiality and form. Considered, refined, minimal, the ordered geometry handsomely contrasts with the wide glazed retail frontage.
With the priority being an unobstructed view line from within, the architecture layers a finely detailed filigree of precious metal framing, in the form of anodised bronze toned sections, as a subtle yet important built form narrative. The bronze section profile connects across the façade to frame vistas, whilst also acting as balustrade support and deep set handrail detail.
Expansive light wells are centred in the plan allowing dual aspect to all 12 suites and encouraging cross ventilation to each room.
Hotel suite balconies are lined in the same raw, textured Beton Brut concrete echoing the contextual qualities of the locale. The intermediary detail is an assembly of no less that 100 precast concrete sections, embedded with charcoal fragments that on closer inspection and touch present as a shimmering yet subtle jewel-like element.
Interiors: Drawn from the united themes of hotel as home, United Places demonstrates a design response of intense refinement and precision. This boutique hotel offers 12 highly curated suites on a compressed and narrow site within the heart of Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens precinct.
A point of distinction and distraction in the streetscape, the entry reads as a permeable form permitting glimpsed views through to textural board formed concrete and black steel finned passage. The arrival experience is punctured by an asymmetrical conical void casting a perfect circle of light at the sun’s peak, calling guests to explore the curious, kinetic artwork that hovers within it. This experience asks one to engage with texture, light and shadow at close range; quiet and harmonious, breaking focus from street level.
Binary concepts of extrovert and introvert form an underlying narrative throughout the guestrooms. Considered the ‘extroverts’, the suites to the North present as sociable and gregarious with connection and engagement to a dynamic and energetic street life below. Soft tones of desaturated green respond to the garden vistas and lush foliage of the botanic setting.
Conversely the Southern suites of the property are considered ‘introverts’. Distinctly more private and secluded they offer a sense of retreat and sanctuary. Pink tones reflect the red brick materiality of the classic Melbourne industrial buildings and warehouses so prevalent to the South.
Interiors are further articulated with bronzed elements, echoing the architectural detailing of the façade. The wall light extrusion follows the exact profile of the balustrade, ensuring both technical and conceptual connection from exterior to interior. This radiates a warm glow across the hand-made quality of the custom render wall finish.
A celebration of the bathing experience is fundamental to the design concept. In an unexpected and unconventional move, ensuites appear as mirrored pods, centrally located within the guestroom, seemingly floating within the space. Acting more as a sculptural piece, the simple act of showering is transformed as direct views to an ever changing botanical garden aspect feel within reach. Privacy is ensured by the mirrored external surface as it reflects light and casts the guest within the pod into discreet silhouette.
The larger double guestroom suites offer an oversized, black sunken bath inserted at the edge of the space capturing 180 degree views of ancient tree tops and the iconic city skyline. Like bathing on the edge of a precipice, the experience is sensory and evocative.