The Spirit of the 20s – Spanish Queen by Robson Rak
Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Photography Felix Forest
Architecture Robson Rak
Words Rose Onans
Sculpture denHolm

Imbued with the vibrancy of the ‘roaring 20s’, Spanish Queen by Robson Rak sees the restoration, renovation and addition to a 1920s Spanish mission house in Melbourne’s southeast create a home that combines the elegance of a silent film star with the joie de vivre of the Charleston.

The brief sought a home that was personal and that balanced elegance with the robustness required to withstand the demands of family life. With a clear alignment between the lifestyle of the clients, a young family of six who love to entertain, and the famously vibrant decade in which the original house was built, Robson Rak set out infuse these aesthetic references throughout both the existing and new spaces of the home.

Designing the renovation and addition, Robson Rak took inspiration from the home’s 1920s origins.

The scene is immediately set by the bar that graces the entrance. Inspired by the 1920s speakeasy, the bar speaks to the hospitable nature of the clients, capturing both the spirit and character of the original home and the personality of the current custodians. From here, the journey through the home to the new addition at the rear is not of a direct sequence from old to new, but of discovering elements of both intermingled and expressed through the architecture, interiors and curated selection of antique and contemporary furniture and art.

The brief sought a home that was personal and that balanced elegance with the robustness required to withstand the demands of family life.

The curve of the original arches that characterise the original home, from the arch relief detailing in the ceiling to the front colonnade, was identified as a key motif that is carried throughout the home. Interpreted by way of the dramatic steel doorway, outsized dining room window, the mirrors in the bathrooms, and even subtly recalled in the banquette in the formal sitting room and in certain light fixtures, the arch becomes a running thread interpolated throughout the new works.

The arches in the original house came to provide a motif that is used throughout the new works, creating a subtle link between old and new.

Where the archway provides a formal call-back to the 1920s, the palette expresses the luxury and patina of the era, exuding glamour and sophistication. Conceived as a ‘cocktail’ of layered textures and tones, silvery travertine benchtops, silver-grey limestone flooring and tarnished silver light fittings are complemented by black steel window frames and balustrading, subtly textured joinery and dramatically veined marble bathrooms.

Spanish Queen by Robson Rak sees the restoration, renovation and addition to a 1920s Spanish mission house in Melbourne’s southeast.

The depth and intensity of this palette are balanced by the cool southern light that bathes the spaces through the new steel and glass atrium to the rear of the home. Adjacent the kitchen and dining room and opening onto a rear courtyard entertaining space through steel-framed glazed doors, the atrium creates a connection to the outdoors befitting a contemporary lifestyle while an element of the more traditional, defined relationship between interior and exterior typical of the original period architecture.

Wholeheartedly embracing what the existing house had to offer, Robson Rak has created a hospitable home of elegance and character.

The atrium infuses the kitchen with soft southern light and opens onto the outdoor entertaining area.

Spanish Queen does not simply find inspiration in the era in which the original home was built – the design finds great joy in expressing the spirit of the 1920s through its details and materials, forms and textures. Wholeheartedly embracing what the existing house had to offer, Robson Rak has created a hospitable home of elegance and character.

Published 15 July, 2020
Photography  Felix Forest
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