A unique opportunity to reimagine a familiar space reveals an architect’s connection to place.

Interiors and architecture practice March Studio’s latest residential project located on Spring Street in Melbourne’s CBD is an evolving case study of light and materiality. The two-bedroom apartment once belonged to March Studio founders Rodney Eggleston and Anne-Laure Cavigneaux before they entrusted it to the current owners, a retired couple looking to embark on their next chapter. Celebrated for their radical residential, hospitality and retail spaces, notably AESOP stores, this project exposes the lesser-known side of Rodney and Anne-Laure’s illustrious firm.

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“The ceiling was a way for us to bring place into the conversation,” Rodney says. The shiny canopy creates the illusion of more; more space, more colour, more texture, and more light.

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The kitchen unites stainless steel, gold and iridescent blue. The island is made from aggregate concrete inset with shards of blue glass. “We joked with the clients that they had to drink ten bottles of Bombay Sapphire for the glass in the island bench,” Rodney laughs.

The apartment is situated within a heritage-listed Brutalist-style building finished in 1972 with views of Parliament House and Yuncken Freeman’s State Government Offices. March Studio initially left their mark on the building in 2016 when they gave the lobby a much-needed facelift, so this time, it was like reuniting with an old friend.

The new homeowners personally requested Rodney and Anne-Laure redesign the apartment for them, knowing they’d lived in the apartment for nine years. Although sad to part with it, the silver lining was that they got to re-experience it in a different light. In this sense, Spring Street represents a rather unusual client-architect relationship, where the client is carrying on the architect’s legacy. Presented with a unique opportunity to reimagine a space that they had intimate knowledge of, Rodney and Anne-Laure’s connection to place allowed them to formulate a clear design solution.

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The clients came across a pair of vintage Oscar Nemo Aran chairs just over a decade ago. “As soon as I saw those chairs, I knew I would get along with them,” Rodney says. Photography by Bill Henson.

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Walking into the apartment, you first notice the silver-lined ceiling, which effectively renders all the contents of the apartment twofold. It’s no coincidence that the ceiling of the train station several storeys below is inlaid with the same polished aluminium panels. “Parliament Station is one of my favourite stations in the world,” Rodney says, “it’s indicative of the 70s optimism that was prevalent at the time, where architects were introducing reflective materials.”

Rodney likens the material palette to famous Brutalist buildings, like London’s Barbican. “The key to balancing a harsh exterior is creating a warm, textural interior,” he says. Heavy timbers, manifested in the dining table and joinery, are offset by a brilliant blue lacquer. And this is not the only unlikely duo; this residence might be the only exception to the universal rule, ‘don’t mix gold and silver’. Instead, the March Studio team applied the two metals as if they were butter and bread.

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Warm afternoon light filters through the windows of St Patrick’s Cathedral and into the living room.

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The dining table, made from recycled black wood, set in motion a heavier timber language across the home. With this as the starting point, Rodney felt he had the freedom to “go a little louder” with the blue, silver and gold accents.

Living this high up certainly has its perks; the view being one of them. To the west, there’s the city and to the east, on a clear day, the Dandenong Ranges and as the sun rises and sets, it ignites an evolving story of light in the process. This story doesn’t just end with the day; at night, Spring Street becomes awash with neon lights as Melbourne morphs into a city of stars.

This feature originally appeared in est Magazine Issue 45: Sense of Place.

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Painting by Brent Harris and photography by Bill Henson.

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The bathroom is the only part of the apartment that remains unchanged from when Rodney and Anne-Laure lived there. During the day, sunlight casts playful shapes onto the concrete floor through the breezeblock walls. At night, the same phenomenon takes place with the city lights.

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March Studio refurbished the lobby of the apartment building back in 2016. The gold anodised aluminium of the original windows comes through in the ceiling, seats and letter boxes, signifying the building’s unique heritage.