George + Powlett in East Melbourne is a boutique collection of 12 residences by ICON Developments who collaborated with Powell and Glenn Architects on the project. Principal and director Ed Glenn speaks about designing apartments and what inspires him.
Describe the architectural style you have employed for ICON’s George + Powlett project
On a site surrounded by the historic building fabric of East Melbourne, we aimed for a modern sympathetic language that picks up on the rhythm of the surrounds. The design suggests a balance between a quiet grid- like structure and more expressive handmade elements. We used off form concrete walls, a line of sculptural columns that stand on the roof of the building and egg-crate geometric cells made of patinated concrete as devices primarily to describe a new spatial experience.
With client expectations growing, how do you achieve balance in delivering what they want and what is needed?
We find clients are pretty well informed at this level. Most of the people who are interested have been involved in projects before. They want high quality architecture and uplifting and engaging spaces.
Are there any buildings or people that are inspiring you recently?
There are fascinating architectural ideas coming out of Spain, Portugal and Chile. Very raw.
Which of your own projects make you most proud?
The curved wall at East Melbourne is exciting to watch at the moment but to be honest, I love going back to projects five years after they are finished. That’s when the garden has grown and everything has settled. Often clients commission unusual sculptural elements in our projects. Going to a site and seeing the work that goes into the construction of these objects is pretty wonderful. Revisiting them is even better. It is about longevity.
You work on such a diverse range of projects, but what do you like most about residential developments?
As a designer, residential projects allow you to really rehearse or imagine occupying the spaces. All the rituals from morning to night. Entertaining. Thinking about how the spaces and light will change with seasons. It’s about how we live. And it’s very rewarding when you get it right.
Are there elements of your residential projects that can also be found in your larger or commercial buildings?
There is a design sensibility or a feeling that infuses all the projects we do. When I think about our most varied projects from a concrete lecture theatre, a rammed earth gallery, a creative advertising agency, an equestrian facility or a Victorian renovation, they are all studies in contrasting stillness with sensory events. We focus on getting plans that work, function well and deliver the highest quality light and aspect. From there it is a process of distilling the design to its purest form, that is where we find a beautiful intensity.