Singular Simplicity

Services: Digital Content Creation

Client: Cantilever
Services: Digital Content Creation

For a celebrity chef who honed his craft at Noma and Rockpool and now helms Vue de monde, one of Australia’s most inventive fine diners, Hugh Allen is unexpectedly easy going and low-key.

So much so that when Cantilever Director Travis Dean first met him in the Brunswick showroom for a laconic chat about the compact kitchen he was renovating, he had no idea Hugh was one of the country’s most exciting young chefs with a design sensibility as natural and refined as his renowned cuisine.

“Hugh was so relaxed and chilled out, nonchalant in some ways, I didn’t really take him that seriously,” Travis recalls with a laugh. “He wandered in, went straight to Tableau and said, ‘I love this kitchen. How does it work and what does it cost?’ To be honest I didn’t expect to hear from him again. Often with younger people the budget doesn’t marry up. When I saw the email address was Vue de monde and realised he’s the executive chef there I thought, ‘Okay, maybe there’s something in this and it’ll keep progressing’.

It sure did. And not a moment too soon.

Hugh was already partway through an extensive renovation of a dilapidated Art-Deco apartment in Melbourne’s South Yarra. “It was a real dump when I bought it,” he says. “But I was always excited about the renovation and design part. It’s near the Botanical Gardens and I’ve always loved the area. It’s a small space so I wanted to optimise it. The kitchen is in the centre of the flat. It’s the first room you walk into when you enter. I decided to turn a bedroom next to the kitchen into a living room, and remove the adjoining wall to connect them and create a kitchen/dining space.” By the time he visited Cantilever’s showroom, work on the compact 2.6 x 2.3-square-metre kitchen area had already begun, including a double-width wall opening into the new living space and a new double-glazed window to admit gorgeous natural light and leafy vistas.

For Cantilever the timing had its challenges. “Usually we like to be engaged a long time before the builder gets on site,” Travis explains. “When projects aren’t led by design they tend to fall short. Ideally we talk with clients early, before they even start talking to builders or buying appliances or tiles. If people come in after they’ve ripped their old kitchen out and put new flooring down, for example, it limits our ability to move services.”


Services: Digital Content Creation

Client: ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects
Service: Custom Project – Event

“…Aboriginal Housing Victoria’s portfolio of around 1500 rental properties was mostly larger, single-storey villas and houses. That works well for larger families and the larger households associated with Aboriginal kinship networks. But growing numbers of singles, couples and young people often didn’t qualify for these and there’s a severe shortage of 1- and 2-bedroom units right across the social and community housing sector. AHV was keen to explore small-to-medium-density apartment living designed specifically for First Nations tenants. They turned to ClarkeHopkinsClarke and Breathe Architecture to help with this: CHC in Dandenong, and Breathe in Reservoir.

At CHC we’d been working with Women’s Housing Limited over many years to create exemplar social housing for vulnerable women and women-led families in suburbs across Melbourne. So we were able to draw on learnings from those multi-residential apartment communities with some similar aspirations: safety and security, comfort and sanctuary, sustainability that’s environmental, social and financial , quality design outcomes that help de-stigmatise social housing.

For me as a then-quite-young Aboriginal architect, this was an exciting opportunity to:

  • Collaborate closely with a First Nations client for the first time
  • Work with Aboriginal landscape designers to integrate Country, culture and community into outdoor spaces to a degree that’s not typical in social housing
  • And deliver on AHV’s ambition for an exemplar reflecting Aboriginal culture and the importance of social cohesion in multi-residential living…”