canterbury road, middle park | Information

A traditional Victorian home in Middle Park, Canterbury Road Residence is an opportunity to rethink a series of custom details to suit the context of the original house and the clients’ strong appreciation for the element of decoration from that era. It is an expression of the clients who it was built for through a collaborative design process. Their open-mindedness and positivity as well as their trust and willingness to take a leap of faith where drawings could not tell the whole story were a real asset to the project.

Maintaining the look of the restored façade, the entry is through a formal entry door, fitted with a colourful agate leadlight surround as an alternative to the irreplaceable stained glass windows that would typically adorn a Victorian entrance. B.E Architecture has developed the agate windows as an application of a singular material relying on the natural qualities of the stone to imbue the ornate, artistic qualities appropriate to period homes. The colours and patterns in the layouts are individually selected for the homes and clients they are used and no two are the same, with characteristics more like an art installation.

The narrow, steep stair has been replaced with a wider timber stair that is easier to traverse yet fits into the character of the original building. Details including a thin steel handrail that curves to the palm of the hand are referential of the older style whilst being distinctly reduced and modern. Likewise, the formal living room has curved cornice details and the house’s original arched windows. The carved ceiling pattern and a large off-centred arched door add a sense of grandeur common in Victorian homes yet rarely seen in modern construction. The large fireplace is made from black steel with soft curves to feel like it could have come from another time.

With a more straight-lined aesthetic, an informal extension is added at the back of the house. Maintaining a sense of decoration, the open kitchen and casual living space use a rich palette of black limestone floors, stainless steel and a solid, smoked timber bench. The small terrace through the centre of the house uses a tall planted wall that can be seen from every room as a response to the lack of opportunities for landscaping. At the back the house opens up onto a pool and studio retreat: a simplified form referencing the brick structures often seen in the area along the laneways.

The approach for the renovation and extension of the Hopetoun Road Residence is to retain the existing structure as an anchoring element, adding a series of pavilions underneath a floating copper roofline that wraps around the original building.

Embracing the client’s desire to maintain a fairly conventional residential structure, the design strengthens the form by creating a gable façade at the front and back with a clearly defined outline. Clad in polished grey render, the gables emphasize solidity and give the house a re-established sense of history and permanence.

In contrast the extensions, composed as ribbons of copper wrapping around the solid structure, sit softly above recessed glazing.  As a counterpoint to the verticality of the façade, the thin, single-level roofline expresses horizontality. The copper banding creates various spatial experiences as it interacts with the original house.

The tension and balance between old and new are carried into the interiors of the house. The existing structure maintains the intimate qualities of the original house with a series of crafted details. The new areas, made primarily from glass, are open to the green landscape beyond. Prominent use of steel-framed windows is a unifying element throughout the project.

Mortgage Choice is a time-honoured brand of finance brokers with hundreds of offices across Australia. The new branch in South Yarra wanted to create a distinct identity within the larger network that would appeal to all generations.

While quite refined, the office is more like a studio with a comfortable, relaxed aesthetic.  Unique for a financial business, it has an open plan with the primary focus on two custom-made work stations designed as stand-alone furniture with steel up lights at the centre.  Where separation is necessary, steel-framed glass partitions form an executive office and casual conference rooms. The glazing is segmented with irregular banding of obscure glass, based more on a fabric design than a traditional steel window detailing, providing privacy and maintaining the open feel.

The finishes and furnishings are an eclectic mix that is less about luxury and more about creating a memorable space. Grey rendered walls, dark timber joinery and plush silk carpeting create a richly textured backdrop. The furniture, a varied collection of coloured velvet, leather, timber and blackened steel, feels as if it has been accumulated over time. Lighting is warm and dimmable with a preference towards unique accent lights to be more inviting. The choice of artwork further emphasizes the attention to detail that encourages customers to feel at ease.

A relaxed setting that relates to culture, Mortgage Choice, South Yarra is an alternative to a prescriptive corporate model; it is a financial company for today.

Hopetoun Avenue, is a renovation and extension to a period home in the Sydney suburb of Vaucluse. A tree house with harbour views.

Offering an intentional point of difference to the solidity of the existing sandstone house, the new addition is a gentle intervention that emerges quietly from the canopy of a beautiful, mature lemon-scented gum tree. With sensitivity to the site’s inherent strengths, the design embraces the preservation and integration of the established tree allowing it to remain the dominate feature on the property.

The covered outdoor spaces are literally built around the tree, encapsulating and framing the trunk. The timber-clad columns recede into the background and a fine line of glazing opens to the densely planted side yard for continuous access to the natural environment from within the interior spaces.

The upper level sits in the branches of the tree floating above the bottom structure to provide a unique treetop setting overlooking views to the Sydney Harbour. The roof is treated in a considered stone so that it is more like landscaping adorned with the scattering of fallen leaves.

Preservation of the tree required the structure to be physically light. Built on a steeply sloping site, the expansive addition made from thin concrete includes an underground parking garage and a large suspended pool, without damaging the tree’s root system. The suspended platform also provides a generous planted area creating obscured views of the house.

The addition is a soft integration creating strong architectural expression that blends into its surroundings and preserves the fabric of the original building.

The Park Street Residence is a house that creates a narrative revealing a layered history. More than just a reconstruction, the design uncovers a new life for the traditional Victorian house, creating a distinguished home for three generations of inhabitants.

Neither a replica of the past nor a total elimination of the original character, the house has been reimagined to create its own language that embraces the legacy of time in a renvisioned way. The façade, traditionally painted, is uncovered to expose the original ornate concrete and brick work. Through the process of restoration, patching is clearly evident adding to the character of the building.

The interiors are characterised by a clean-lined ornamentation, referencing the grandiose qualities of the previous house. Many of the surfaces are treated with an upgraded materials, including floor to ceiling bookshelves, wood panelling, grooved panelling on ceilings as well as tile and marble in the kitchen and bathrooms. Customised details, such as coved cornices and a reduced version of skirtings and architraves, give the renewed interiors a sense of history. Honest materiality and quality craftsmanship contribute to telling a story of the past whilst supporting the modern purpose.

The subtle, stacked limestone house is a contemporary reinterpretation of a traditional building. The design responds to the clients’ brief for a warm, intimate family home with a sense of establishment. Distinguishing a main house from the modern extensions employs a zoned planning strategy to create a feeling of hierarchy through the spaces.

The front house embraces the proportions of a traditional Victorian house to create intimate spaces and the unique detailing draws from the decorative techniques and quality craftsmanship of that era. Delicate stonework, fine metal gate, concrete lentils and vaulted ceilings create a distinct initial impression.

As a juxtaposition, the extended zones are characterised by a dark bronzed metal cladding, open layouts and expansive glazing. Carefully considered lines of sight enable visibility and connectivity through multiple rooms to the landscaped gardens.

Combined to compose a comfortable balance of new and old typologies, the zones ultimately provide a useful variation in functionality.

Walsh Street, South Yarra Architecture


These two houses in Walsh Street, South Yarra are a boutique development that replace a single house. The street elevation of the building reveals two distinct masses in the form of a white render box on top of a lavastone plinth which clearly articulates the individual apartments and mitigates the scale of the building. More than that, it lends each apartment a distinct feeling, evident both inside and out.

The fundamental requirement guiding the design was the desire to have two dwellings that feel more like houses than apartments. This has been achieved through the spatial organisation of the apartments. Common areas, excluding basement, have been minimised. The result is a level of independence and privacy to each dwelling that is unexpected given the context. Both apartments have been arranged to maximise solar access, and feature multiple outdoor living spaces that double as light courts. Extensive and varied planting gives privacy to these spaces, and connects the outside with the inside.

There is an emphasis on craftsmanship throughout the construction, which is in excess of what is customary for such a development. Natural materials such as stone, wood and concrete have been used throughout, to give a sense of permanence and solidity to the building. The palette is richer than what might be expected from be architecture. It represents an extension of the sort of work for which be architecture are known, which has arisen out of careful analysis of the potential market for such a development and a way of reconciling the taste of a wider audience with a practice known for a quieter, considered aesthetic.

Cassell Street house is a boutique new home built on a corner block in South Yarra, built in place of an attached Edwardian row house and set amongst homes of a similar vintage. The house was therefore designed to be sympathetic with the period but not mimetic of any particular style, whilst remaining unapologetically contemporary. The limited material palate of natural and aged materials such as travertine, rusticated timber, concrete & steel cast over a strong rectilinear form work to give the building the quality of looking older than it is – to look as though in an another world it could well have been standing in its place unchanged since the 1930s.

Being sited on a corner block, the first floor form in particular is highly visible from the street with all sides visible to the passer by. A bespoke material treatment was thus considered an appropriate urban gesture. The complex travertine façade is made up of 10 different sized slabs of stone laid in bands sourced from opposite sides of the same quarry producing two distinct colours. The banding quality of the stone façade is referential of Byzantine buildings in a reference to the owner’s heritage. The deep apertures formed in the travertine walls of the first floor façade make the building read as a singular and massive stone edifice and in doing so shade and shelter the western windows as well as protecting the occupant from the nearby major road.

By contrast, downstairs is characterised by expansive glazing, opening the living areas to the secluded garden space which surrounds the building. A visitor enters from the street into the heart of the building adjacent a curving staircase rising three floors from basement garage to the upstairs bedrooms. The curving staircase contrasts with the strong rectilinear form of the exterior and is used as a separation device to define the ground floor living areas into two distinct zones: The day/summer areas facing north and overlooking a pool and outdoor eating area; the night/winter areas facing south and east into the more sheltered back yard. Similarly upstairs the master suite is separated from the children’s areas.


The siting response for this project was to have neither a front or back garden, but rather a continuous green outdoor space around the building. This space is visually and physically accessible from all lower level living rooms through continuous floor to ceiling glass. The whole of the ground floor is within a protected courtyard garden, contained by a continuous high fence, enabling the entire area (excepting pedestrian and car entry points) to be private and usable.

The ground floor living areas are separated into two distinct zones – day / summer areas facing north and west are integrated with the pool, garden and covered outdoor eating areas, while the night / winter areas face east and south. Separation between these zones is achieved by the placement of a two level void and stair. This element of vertical movement and effective slice in the plan is not revealed until entry into the dwelling. This element provides separation at the upper level between master bedroom and the children’s bedroom and laundry facilities.

Large spotted gum pergolas that project out from under the upper level enhance usable outdoor areas. These pergolas of black of stained spotted gum  have glazed roofs and operable walls, and also serve to ground the floating bluestone form above.

With the ground floor having continuous glazing, the upper level is contrasted with expressive stone walls with deep apertures that protect the occupant from the nearby major road. These apertures and associated upper level courtyards provide internal privacy to the dwelling.

The selection of materials consciously addressed their ability to span the life of the building – natural and aged materials such as bluestone temper the “newness” of the project, and will temper its age in the future. The bluestone cladding is cut in 4 differing widths and a random stacked pattern is utilized to accentuate the horizontality of the building, while the black charred timber screens and fences contrast the stone in their vertical arrangement. The bluestone is employed as an antidote to the prevalence of acrylic render and its flat plasticity and immediacy. While being a material that is quarried, cut and textured and thus rich, it is also an amazing local material that gives a real, subtle texture and colour to the building, creating a patina that will age with grace.

B.E Coastal Architecture.

The Blake Street House was intended to investigate a typology of coastal architecture which responded primarily to the ruggedness of its Australian landscape setting.

This dictated elevating the house above the ground plane through the construction of a massive stone podium. The choice of Maffra stone and its rudimentary construction relates to similar stonework seen in many of the historic buildings in the surrounding area.

The timber construction of the upper level of the house befits the coastal context of the house and provides a deliberate contrast to the solidity and heaviness of the stonework. The exposure of the site necessitated treating the timber cladding to prolong its lifespan. From this a strong graphic composition of charcoal and white was developed which further enlivens the house.

The house has been designed to preserve the ruggedness of the existing landscape without compromising the utility of the house. Its elevated position gives occupants the experience of feeling like they are within the tree canopy when they are inside the house. In response to the brief there is a variety of spaces with different aspects that provide enjoyment to users throughout both the day and the year. Due to the exposure of the site, outdoor spaces are located on the leeward side of the house offering greater protection from the weather.

57 Tivoli Road, South Yarra
The house, 57 Tivoli Road, is situated on a corner block in the inner city Melbourne suburb of South Yarra.
Formally one of a series of attached row houses of disparate & eclectic housing styles, the exposed corner site meant a protective building was required for both visual and acoustic privacy, and the design seeks to create an enclosed shelter for the occupants, as well as forming an architectural bookend to the procession of houses which precede it.
The narrow & sloping corner site presented several architectural opportunities, not least the pragmatic requirement to build across the full width of the block and in doing so opening the full length of the site to become one singular architectural from.
The zig zag shape allows a six metre-long window in the living room slides open over views of the city. The interior is primarily fitted out in wood, with a staircase twisting through the space and guest bedrooms clad floor to ceiling in timber. The Tivoli Road house is a private residence, located on a rare inner-city corner site located within a streetscape of mixed housing stock. Its location allowed us to explore both built form and materials selection, and is designed to act as a bookend to the other houses in its block. The exposed corner site meant a protective building was required for both visual and acoustic privacy, and the design seeks to create an enclosed shelter for the occupants. To enhance the building’s reading as a single object, a single external material was chosen – bluestone. The bluestone was selected for its durability and ability to age kindly, while being sourced locally allowed the construction costs to be lowered.
In order to create movement in the external faces, a paneling technique was developed using the diamond sawn bluestone in varying thickness and panel widths – the “chattered” effect the stone created meant we could push the limit of residential architecture to a more brutal, minimal built form.
To soften the expansive use of bluestone, the clients’ love of timber was expressed within – where externally the bluestone dominates, so too does the timber internally.
The building utilizes Spotted gum flooring throughout, with feature bunk rooms for occasional visitors clad floor to ceiling, and a cranked Blackwood stair in the two storey entrance space that serves as a modern reference to the traditional spiral staircase.
Internal light courts were used to filter light throughout the site, enclosed external courtyards used to incorporate landscaping, both maintaining privacy and connection to the exterior conditions.
A six metre sliding window was employed to convert the living area into a large entertaining terrace, borrowing views to the city in order to instill a spaciousness uncommon in small inner city sites.
With all b.e. Architecture projects, the refined forms and considered material selection are achieved by resolving every corner, junction and detail with craft-like techniques, seen here particularly in the subtle external texture designed to develop a patina affording the building a timeless quality.

This new house in the Melbourne suburb of Toorak was designed for a family of Singaporean heritage and is an interpretation of the Asian courtyard house typology for an Australian urban setting.

A series of courtyards are subtracted from the form to create a level of openness that allows the residents to see through the spaces. The courtyards punctuate the delineation of space, which is more pronounced in a courtyard house than contemporary, open-plan design.


The progression through the spaces is carefully engineered, creating a feeling of the presence of rooms without the use of walls or physical dividers.


The result is the harmonious, carefully calibrated spaces that seamlessly transitions between inside and outside. The structure is simple and aesthetically refined, the stucco render balancing with slatted operable screens creating the juxtaposition between solid and fluid.


The entry to the house was designed to take guests into the very heart of the house. The house is built around a walled courtyard allowing the ground floor to be left open to the outside.


The building is designed to sit close to the ground. The polished concrete floor used in the living areas extends out into the courtyards creating a flow between the ground floor living and the external garden areas.


Large steel shutters wrap around the link between the master bedroom and the children’s and guests’ bedroom wing. The density of the slats varies to allow light in but not views from neighbouring houses.


The 12-metre joinery bench which extends from the kitchen through to the dining and living rooms was designed to create a horizontal recess in which to display objects.

Café Latte, Hawksburn Village:
Café Latte and owner, Luca Lorusso are an icon in the Hawksburn Village shopping precinct with a loyal following dating back 20 years. Brief was to establish a new look that would enable the business to continue for the next 20 years. The primary issue was how to move forward and attract a younger new generation of diners without disenfranchising the old guard. The owner’s budget was limited and had set a construction period of only 5 weeks. The existing premises had to be totally re-built over two floors including redesigning a period shopfront.

The owner had extensive requirements that had to be designed into the same building envelope: Increased seating capacity, a larger kitchen, the addition of a bar and opening up a small upstairs function room for an additional dining and late night bar experience. b.e architecture wanted to avoid an architectural interior or one that had a formulaic atmosphere. The original 20 year old design by architect Peter Madison was built around a quirky central bar/waiting station in the centre of the room. The new interior replaced a central focus with an disparate focus on an array of eclectic and hand crafted items. In designing and making all the elements in the room is referential of 1930s design.

At the heart of the success of the design for Café Latte was the discretion of the design team to rigorously study the existing restaurant, its personality, its patrons and the personality of the owner – what made it successful in the first place. In doing this a design was conceived which was not a grand architectural intervention; but a considered, in-detail response to the cultural milieu that was café latte. The design team studied the intricacies of the restaurant and its operation, considered in all elements the experience of dining and the comfort and pleasure of the diner. The design took the form of the smallest and, occasionally, the most un-assuming elements of the restaurant. From the artwork to the lighting the design of café latte is in the detail.


Docker Street is a substantial alteration and addition to an existing High Victorian terrace house. The bulk of the existing house has been retained whilst elements of the secondary structure have been removed to improve the utility of the house. The existing house has been restored in a way that is sympathetic to the history of the house by making evident what is original and what is new. At the same time, elements of the original interior have been tempered to create a seamless flow between the existing house and the addition.

An important part of the works was the relocation of the entry from the front of the house to the side, so that one now enters the centre of the building. By rationalising the circulation through the house existing spaces can now be used more effectively.

The addition to the rear comprises a detached guest wing as well as new living and ancillary spaces focussed around a sheltered north-facing courtyard. The palette of materials throughout the house is very restrained, in deference to the integrity of the original house.

Sited above an existing restaurant and lounge at the top end of town, the Siglo bar and terrace reveals one of Melbourne’s best vistas. Immediate neighbour to the Princess Theatre, the site overlooks Spring Street, Parliament House and its gardens – all factors the client could not ignore when considering the additional venue on the site. While providing such advantages the site also held constraints through both planning and construction – as such, the building was set back from the street frontage, designed to sit quietly in its surrounds. When emerging from the entry staircase, the glass and steel pavilion theatrically frames the iconic “Benjamin Fuller” mural along the side of the Princess Theatre before leading patrons toward the checkerboard tiled terrace and the sought after view.

The tartan pattern of the steel allows a completely permeable building, with most glazed panels part of an operable louvered system – the green and grey glasshouse capable of coping with Melbourne’s unpredictable weather with ease, while achieving an equally free-flowing aesthetic. Varying shades of glass were utilized to enhance the texture of the tartan pattern, the green not dissimilar to the countless wine bottles housed below.

The construction of the open plan terrace provided many complexities now concealed – the existing site consisted of two unevenly pitched roofs with a great deal of mechanical equipment (kitchen exhausts, air-conditioning plant etc) which needed to remain operational for the venues below. In addition, the client requested the outdoor area be fully heated without interruption of the space and for the capability to efficiently clean away all outdoor debris. The solutions included staged demolition to allow relocation of equipment, a network of gas pipes below the tiling to allowing portable gas heaters to be “plugged in” or removed as the occasion required, and a removable tiled deck to allow the services tray beneath to be washed free of cigarettes, rubbish and leaves. The erection of the pavilion also provided its own difficulties – the prefabricated steel frames required craning into the site, a task only able to be completed in the least busy hours of a major city street.

The small lantern-like structure that rests lightly above Spring Street occupies its space respectfully and in doing so Siglo exudes a timeless quality, a luxurious and relaxed setting to enjoy a wine with the view.

The house at Whitehall Road is positioned at the crest of a hill, to take advantage of the sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. A grove of mature gum trees inform the location of the house; their tall and slender trunks countering the low horizontality of the building and providing shade to the pool and deck areas. The overriding gesture of the building is the massive drystone wall running the full length of the house. It is cut into the earth, at once anchoring the house and countering the exposure of the site.

The form of the house is a series of rectilinear pavilions, orientated predominantly to follow the drystone wall. The pavilion form downplays the scale of the five bedroom house, and allows for a variety of outdoor, indoor and interstitial spaces. The character of the interstitial spaces is further emphasised through the use of fully retractable glazing and delicate cane screening, mediating the enclosure of inside and the exposure of the site.

The predominant materials are stone, timber, glass and render. The heaviness and solidity of the stone and the scale of the timber sections provide a strong contrast to the large expanses of glass which feature throughout.

The Fawkner Street residence was an existing Victorian dwelling that the client wanted refurbished to reflect a more modern living lifestyle. The existing details of cornices, architraves & skirtings were not original, so a contemporary version was explored to create a sense of resolve, appropriateness and timelessness – a method of subtly combining the old with the new, rather than the increasingly common existing versus extension. The understated detailing utilizes an older style of craftsmanship, with the use of large coved plaster cornices and hard plaster ceiling finish. Likewise the new architraves and skirting carried through both old and new portions of the house, lining board robe fronts and lining board ceilings respect the age of the house, resisting the urge to completely modernize or mimic the era.

The additions at the rear revolve around the resurgence of the kitchen as the heart of the home, and its size and layout reflects this congregational area. The 7.5 x 5.5 metre kitchen and meals area was designed to allow an expansive island bench (4.9 x 1.5m), its function split between a workbench at one end and an oversized dining area at the other. This kitchen considers use at all times of the day – broad sheet paper reading in the morning with coffee, kids doing homework in the afternoon, groups of friends gathering for drink whilst the host prepares dinner – and at all times overlooks the large north facing garden.

In addition to the landscaping providing a great visual backdrop to the kitchen entertaining area, it allowed a departure from the formality of the house, with planting in undulating masses, diverse tree species and a free flowing, un-manicured atmosphere. The garden also serves as a measure to direct residents to the obscured bath house at the rear of the property – previously a disused right of way, the traditional “shed” area has been converted into a full scale Japanese bath complex. The set of pods is predominantly hidden which endows the garden with a sense of theatre as the occupants are drawn towards the timber verandah-like structure to investigate. This area is broken up into satellite pavilions so there is a continual journey through the structure – landscaped spa area, to sauna, then private courtyard, followed by a powder room and bamboo garden – functionally and aesthetically a complete departure from the existing dwelling but nevertheless a complementary addition that sits appropriately in the landscape and modern lifestyle.

Set on 100 acres in coastal Victoria, this site was bare of vegetation except for a 100-year-old row of Cypress trees. The design was based around a series of sunken walled courtyards to create immediately useable outdoor areas in the windswept environment.

Visitors are lead into a large landscaped amphitheatre with a porte-cochere leading to stone stairs up to the entry situated within the first walled courtyard. The building is positioned with its back to the driveway so its complexities are revealed gradually as one is lead through the structure.

The main sleeping area with library is separated from the main structure via man made waterscape between the buildings accessed by a suspended glazed walkway. Visitor bedrooms and artist’s studio in another area look onto their own courtyard, each zone having distinct rural sightlines from each other.

The extensive steel and timber exo-skeleton were designed in response to the traditional wrap-around veranda of the local farmhouses. The massive steel and timber portal frames capture and frame the rural pastoral views from within the building.

Hopetoun Street House


Hopetoun Street House is a substantial alteration and addition to an existing Edwardian house. The bulk of the existing house has been retained whilst elements of the secondary structure have been removed to improve the utility of the house. The existing house has been restored in a way that is sympathetic to the history of the house by making evident what is original and what is new. At the same time, elements of the original interior have been tempered to create a seamless flow between the existing house and the addition.

The brief for the project was to upgrade the existing house and provide new living and ancillary spaces and a separate children’s’ zone. The children’s quarters form the upstairs component of the addition and utilise the area formed by the steep pitch of the Edwardian cottage as a rumpus room. The new living spaces are take the form of an elongated & minimal pavilion which sweeps around the north facing back yard transitioning from an internal living area to a covered outdoor dining area.

The extended section is an L-shaped kitchen, living, dining and covered outdoor space framed by an extended roofline and patio, like a boxed window looking into a harmonious space of family living. The horizontality of this rear extension is emphasised by its materials. In reference to old timber lean-to structures, commonly found in the area, painted timber ceiling boards, of this ‘lean-to’ extension, run the length of the expansive space. This contrasts with the vertical black ribbed steel surrounding the exterior of second floor bedroom wing.

The project was cost effective because as much as possible of the existing house was retained, and the excellent structural condition of the property necessitated minimal work to the existing house. The bulk of the extension was built utilising conventional lightweight construction techniques.