Gatwick Private Hotel is the conversion of two empty ground floor shells within an iconic heritage listed building in St Kilda, to create a single family home. Two key drivers formed the conceptual framework for the design: a plan that could evolve to suit different modes of occupation throughout the year and over the long term and a detailed response to the complex history and immediate context of the site.
Initially considered for redevelopment as an office for an architectural practice, its potential to house a family of five in the short-medium term, and then to evolve into other uses, both commercial and public over different periods of time, led us to test multiple planning options that suggested a very wide range of possibilities.
Designed to house a blended family, the design needed to support multiple forms of occupation as from week to week this varies from being a home for a couple, a family home for 3, 4 or sometimes 5 people.
The plan arrangement includes an additional separate space accessed through the shared lobby, designed to be used as an office, a separate studio for visiting relatives, Airbnb or potentially a range of different events. It also considers the potential for the family home to be divided in the distant future, to create three separate residences in response to changing needs and to avoid the need to move to downsize and relocate.
Whilst the heritage controls applied only to the exterior of the building, extensive research into the building's history was used to develop a material palette and series of details that reference the Spanish Mission style but re-interprets it in a contemporary manner.
Prior to commencing work a detailed photographic survey of the internal existing building fabric was undertaken to identify how the remnants of the existing interior materiality could be sympathetically reinterpreted in the fit out. While a great deal of the interior fabric had been lost in the base building works and use of the spaces as a production base during the filming of an Australian renovation reality television show, there were still elements that remained that we saw could be effectively juxtaposed against new interventions to retain a meaningful sense of the original interiors.
New materials were carefully chosen to clearly distinguish them from old, while still evoking a sense of the grandeur and permanence that distinguished the original manifestation as a luxury hotel. A careful balance has been struck between retaining echoes of the past and the creation of a re-imagined future.
This project questions what we choose to value, and how a sensitive integration of residual elements can create a narrative that creates a more meaningful dialogue between past, present and future. The Gatwick has had an extraordinary history: in recent years encompassing its start as a luxury private hotel, a period as a boarding house, and now as private residences. Its current manifestation on the ground floor as a private home represents only its current iteration, and this project will allow for it to continue to evolve well into the future into new private and public forms of occupation.