Armadale Residence

Crafted from granite, this B.E Architecture home is monumental in design, yet it’s the subtle variation in materials and intricate details that has resulted in a surprisingly uplifting and light aesthetic.

 

Builder: LBA Construction Group. Photographer: Peter Clarke

Architects

Broderick Ely, Jonathon Boucher and Andrew Piva; B.E Architecture

Led by directors Broderick Ely, Jonathon Boucher and Andrew Piva, B.E Architecture is a Melbourne-based firm renowned for producing quiet-yet-strong architectural projects that appropriately reference their surrounds. Their sympathetic approach to architecture has resulted in a sophisticated portfolio of buildings that are meaningful and continue to be relevant over time.

A unified goal for an iconic project

The Story Behind The Design

Leaving behind a large period home in order to downsize, the owners of this Armadale property desired something new and contemporary. They provided B.E Architecture with a clear brief, but were open to having their ideas challenged throughout the process – a characteristic that led director Andrew Piva to describe the owners as “role-model clients”.

The client’s attitude was fortunate as B.E Architecture is renowned for creating contemporary and strong architecture that commands attention.

While the site and receptive clients provided a basis for something iconic, Andrew explained they always wanted to incorporate elements of the period home – the solid feeling, crafted nature and attention to detail – into the new build.

Positioned on a sweeping bend and opposite crossroads, the architects wanted the home to sit quietly on the street, yet be strong, proud and private. “In this position, people are going to see the building and we didn’t want to squander that opportunity,” said Andrew.

And squander the opportunity they did not. Instead, B.E Architecture designed a solid, 260-tonne granite structure that delivered a sense of permanence and authority.

This was driven by a desire to create a building that “has a sense of time, history or place” in a similar fashion to civic architecture. Granite enabled B.E Architecture to reinterpret traditional materials and building techniques in a contemporary form. “When you discover a beautiful material like that, you want to see it in all its glory; you want to celebrate it,” explained Andrew.

While granite can traditionally have a sombre, oppressive appearance, the split-faced stone has a beautiful natural quality with the quartz and silvery flicks refracting light that broke down the mass form.

For a material that’s so heavy and dense, the granite was quite mouldable, pliable and adaptable

Andrew Piva

Fittings & Fixtures

Towel Rail

Roger Seller Hydrotherm Heated Rail

Tapware

Brodware Yokato Tapware in Weathered Brass

Timber Shutters

Pacific Teak Custom-Made Shutters

Bathroom vanity timber

Limed Walnut Veneer by Distinct Joinery

Halo Light

B.E Architecture Custom Designed Light Fitting

Handrail

B.E Architecture Custom Brass Handrail

All of a sudden something that was once really heavy becomes almost cloud-like and uplifting

Andrew Piva

Signature Element

“We wanted to push the material without going that one step too far and appearing too tricky.” The monastic stone bathtub and fluid form of the basins were balanced by the form and translucent quality of the honed Fallow granite. The introduction further added warmth and softness. “It feels honest,” said Andrew. “The space has exceeded our expectations.”

Continuity from inside to out

Take A Closer Look

This quality inspired the design team to use different types of granite throughout the building, unifying the palettes of the external and internal spaces. Pairing back the material palette is a common approach B.E Architecture aims to take. Andrew explained this is not to produce a monotone building with no movement, but to avoid their buildings being phonetic.

To create a seamless aesthetic, B.E Architecture chose the Torino stone pavers as flooring throughout the interior and outdoor spaces. “As a floor, it needs to be forgiving and you don’t want it to feel precious. The tonal variation and texture of the Torino also had that sense of movement we desired.”

For Andrew, the Torino finish options also provided the best of both worlds. As a honed surface, the stone looked identical in colour to the brushed finish paving outdoors, allowing for a unified transition between the two spaces.

To emphasise the unified aesthetic, B.E Architecture extended the palette into the bathroom where the bathtub and sinks have been engineered from solid blocks of Fallow granite. With an incredible aspect looking out onto a first-floor walled Japanese maple garden, the design team wanted to push the bathroom aesthetics and create something special in the space.

With its solid nature and silvery, cool-grey undertones, granite on mass has the potential to appear cold and uninviting, a feeling B.E Architecture was conscious to avoid. “The mottled Torino finish and colour added warmth to the palette, as does the use of timber,” explained Andrew.

Inside, limed walnut veneer cabinetry with touches of brass offset the stone. Outside, custom designed weathered grey pacific teak shutters have been carved into the split stone granite form. This added contrast and made the building dynamic and adaptable, while meeting the client’s brief of flooding the interior spaces with natural light.