Hecker Guthrie discusses West End's latest building: The Spencer

Laurence DragomirMay 4, 20170 min read

Trenerry Property has unveiled 'The Spencer', the latest of four apartment buildings within its boutique West End development: a future-ready mixed-use development and self-sufficient community located on a former brownfield site in West Melbourne.

According to Trenerry Property West End will transform the 9200sqm former Australia Post site into a vibrant, connected hub for living, playing, staying and working.

The Spencer is located on the eastern side of the site, sitting on the corner of Dudley Street and Bluestone Lane. It has been designed as a formally regular tower rising 11-storeys flanked on either side by podia of differing heights, with a restrained aesthetic comprising an exposed brick skin. The upper three levels or 'crown' element are enveloped in a clear glazing providing a light weight capping atop a robust base. CHT were the principal architect for the project working in tandem with Hecker Guthrie who designed the interiors.

The Spencer will accommodate 102 apartments across its 11-storeys and while it contains West End’s most affordable apartments, this according to designers Hecker Guthrie, has not come at the expense of quality or liveability.

In creating The Spencer, we’ve provided an abundance of carefully selected components that ensure the highest standard of living. Instead of designing The Spencer to include only the simple necessities required in a home, we’ve created these apartments with what residents want at the forefront of our thinking. Inclusions and design details not usually seen in apartments are standard features at The Spencer. Joinery acts as built-in furniture as well as being functional storage, a dining table is nestled underneath the island benches and kitchens include abundant appliances.

In creating The Spencer, our signature soft modernism design has been refined to offer life within the space of each apartment. These are residences we’d love to live in and that’s a true sign of design with integrity and heart.

Hecker Guthrie

Urban.com.au spoke to Hecker Guthrie Associate, Stacey Van Harn about the inspiration for The Spencer's interiors.

Urban.com.au: What was it like collaborating on a project of this scale with so many other talented designers?

Stacey Van Harn: It was great to see the results that each of the different interior designers presented for their buildings. In some ways, it really highlighted the design zeitgeist of the current time but just as much it was interesting to see how we each took the brief in our own direction.

Working alongside your peers is also a great opportunity to reflect on what makes a Hecker Guthrie design desirable, to both our client and the purchasers, what points of difference can we create etc.

UM: How were the interiors informed by not only their immediate context but the building's exterior?

SVH: Hecker Guthrie’s response to the brief was more so to provide a timeless design and neutral interior that will allow the end user to make the space their own. It is less about fashion and more about creating a space that will stand the test of time and do it well.

The Architect (CHT) made a strong point of utilising real/genuine materials in their architecture and this is certainly an approach that aligns with HG. We are so glad to see the use of real granite benchtops and the like in our project alongside the architects brick and metal finishes.

UM: What was the process like for designing The Spencer? Was the exterior conceived first and the interiors responded? Or were the designs happening in parallel?

SVH: Whilst the architectural design process started before the interiors a lot of the design development has occurred in parallel. We worked together with CHT to develop up the planning of the different apartments to ensure the building design as well resolved.

UM: How do you design with affordability in mind but not at the expense of quality?

SVH: There is always give and take when it comes to cost vs design and achieving the right balance is about compromising in the right places. It is really about keeping your initial design ideas always at the forefront of the process and investing in quality materials and what is important to this project in particular.

UM: What is the target market you are designing for on The Spencer?

SVH: We always strive at HG to produce a design outcome that could suit a varied array of end users. With this particular project, you will see in some of our earlier conceptual presentations that we actually set out to create spaces that would appeal to the three designers working on the job,

Myself (Stacey, in her 30’s) Hamish (in his 40’s) and Paul (in his 50’s). This wasn’t about necessarily designing something for ourselves but creating something we would be proud of and would appeal to this varied demographic of purchasers.

Hecker Guthrie discusses West End's latest building: The Spencer
The Spencer's lobby. Image: Trenerry Property

The Spencer overview

  • Site footprint approx 1209sqm
  • Height: 11-storeys, 36.5 metres
  • 102 apartments
  • 45 x 1 bedroom apartments ranging from 47.5 - 73.5sqm (excluding balcony)
  • 44 x 2 bedroom apartments ranging from 64.5 - 83sqm (excluding balcony)
  • 12 x 3 bedroom apartments ranging from 86.5 - 119.5 square metres (excluding balcony)
  • 1 x 4 bedroom apartment spanning 166sqm (excluding balcony)

Construction on the entire West End development is slated to commence in July 2017 and be completed by late 2019.

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.
Trennery Property
West Melbourne
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