Partners in both life and practice, David and Tisha tell us all about their latest work at The Springfield, designing luxury homes for an older demographic.
July 26th, 2017
Tell me about the relationship between Chapter Group and K2LD.
David: K2LD came first, and Chapter Group really bought into our synergy and design process. We’ve always worked together to deliver homes that make people happy to live in. And not only that, but we want people to reap the benefits of their investment, so that our design provides true value. We want our owners to be proud owners.
Tisha: One of the directors of Chapter Group, Dean Lefkos, is an old friend of mine. From our very first project, K2LD and Chapter Group were able to build a relationship of trust, and together, we can produce work that pushes the boundaries of development. The big test for us is, can we live in it? Is the quality good enough that we would want to live there and own that property? And if we can’t say yes to those questions, then we’d rather not go through with it. It’s a useful benchmark, because there is always that tension between cost and quality.
How do you maintain a fresh approach across each project?
David: Being architects, we’re constantly evolving our work – every project is a completely unique response for us, we embark on a new journey with new ideas and research.
Tisha: I think that’s an ethos of the practice, we strive very hard to ensure that we do not produce work that looks all the same. There are practices that do have a consistent style, and I know that that can work for others. But for us, it’s all about testing and pushing different ideas. Also, a big part of what we do is encourage our staff to travel. We try to get to Milan once a year, we send our team to the World Architecture Festival and conferences around the world. It’s one thing to learn from books and pictures, but it’s another thing to actually walk through spaces and experience them, and see parts of the world where they are exploring and implementing new ideas.
Can you give an insight into your latest work at The Springfield?
Tisha: Well, to start with, The Springfield is on an amazing site. It was a house and grounds owned by someone rather famous, who purchased the two neighbouring blocks of land on the corner of Orrong and Springfield Avenue, put a giant fence up, and turned it into her own private garden. Just imagine – 2400 square metres of private garden sitting in the heart of Toorak! When we opened the gates and walked in for the first time, it was like ‘Wow…’
David: …it was like Jurassic Park! A high fence, that hid a beautiful garden with established plants. You would never know it was there from the outside. So this secret garden really became a springboard for the design.
Tisha: We were also inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, looking at Falling Water and different examples where the architecture had really blended into the landscape. And the brief that Chapter Group put together was really exciting. We designed for owner-occupiers, creating real homes – 240 square metre properties, the size of houses that people might have in other parts of Melbourne.
David: We knew that we would largely be appealing to downsizers, people moving into the next phase of life who were looking to move to a smaller place. So we worked to understand what elements would be key to them, in being able to turn these new residences into their homes.
Tisha: It was things like having a beautiful front door, a sense of security, a big kitchen where you can have your family around and entertain. The kitchens are huge! A standard island bench in the three-bedroom units are five metres long, so you can actually get 20 people around it.
That’s enormous! What’s the story behind these giant kitchens?
Tisha: They’re beautiful works by Molteni Dada and architect and designer Vincent Van Duysen, something we saw in Milan – and I thought this was the perfect project to bring that elegance into. We wanted the key parts of the house to be real sculptural features, beautiful pieces. And it’s a pleasure to use, everything soft closes, it doesn’t take a huge amount of force to operate anything.
David: It was an exercise of looking at the quality of craftsmanship that our potential market would have grown used to having, and being able to bring those finer touches to a smaller place.
Seniors living is undergoing a major rethink in design circles – what are the lessons to be learnt in designing for a new generation who are looking to maintain their high quality of life as they age?
David: In our research for The Springfield, people asked a lot of really fundamental questions that I think a lot of architects have failed to answer. Where do I put my broom? How do I dry my clothes? How big is the sink – can I fit my roasting pan in there? They need to have a place where they feel they can really live.
Tisha: These are very real concerns, because these people spend the majority of their time at home. Some of these older residents are looking at having live-in assistance, and they need to know where their carer can stay, for instance – how will they live with me while maintaining my privacy?
David: And accessibility of course is a big thing, they want corridors wide enough to be able to wheel themselves out the door. It’s really very simple and practical, but a lot of us don’t think about that until we get to that age.
Tisha: It’s all about being mindful of that ageing population, really gaining an understanding of their requirements, and designing spaces with elegance.
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