Prahran House by Techne Architecture + Interior Design

  • Techne take us behind the doors of a converted warehouse designed as an ode to a contemporary art gallery in Prahran, Melbourne.

    A complete reincarnation of a former textile factory, Prahran House is nestled the heart of inner-city Melbourne. Inspired by Techne’s portfolio of industrial-meets-residential design, avid art collectors Andrew Penn and Kallie Blauhorn enlisted in the help of the local firm to transform their unconventional home into a modern two-storey abode that prioritises city views, outdoor living and their vast collection of artwork. Retaining the original red-brick facade, Techne have explored the concept of a ‘building inside a building’, where art takes precedence over the architecture.

    The kitchen features the Menu Echasse Vase. Artwork: Stormie Mills, “This Success is Fragile” (2017).

    Artwork in the dining room: Alexander McKenzie, “Ambassador’s Island” (2012).

    Enveloped within the confines of the old warehouse, the unique light-filled building comprises of a series of open, gallery-like spaces. Techne co-director Nick Travers explains the overall aim was to create spaces that didn’t overpower the artwork on display. “We set out to preserve the industrial fabric of the existing structure while incorporating a clean, contemporary design set against a vibrant urban backdrop,” Nick says. The layout follows a communal entertaining area downstairs, with private spaces and an outdoor terrace upstairs.

    Inside, a striking boxy staircase sets the tone for the Brutalist-inspired interiors that follow, complete with polished concrete floors and a coffered concrete ceiling. Shou sugi ban boards add warmth and tactility without disrupting the robust scheme, chosen to accentuate the moody palette. “Shou sugi ban offers a clean yet characterful finish and draws the eye to various design points of interest,” Nick says. “Since it’s not common in Melbourne or Australia, it adds another element of exclusivity that suits the uniqueness of the rest of the home.”

    The ground floor features Tim Storrier’s painting “Evening Embers” (1995) and works in natural ochres on stringy bark by Indigenous artists including Eddie Aning-Mirra Kerry, Marcus Pascoe, Jeremiah Bonson, Wukun Wanambi, Galuma Maymuru, Ivan Namrikki and Emmanuel Wurrikdj.

    “Despite there being no heritage restrictions to retain the facade, doing so acted as another layer between the house and the street allowing for the creation of a sanctuary that really is a building inside a building.”


    – Techne co-director Nick Travers

    Artworks include “Swamp Wallabies” (2014) sculptures by Peter Cooley and works in natural ochres on stringybark by Eddie Aning-Mirra Kerry, Marcus Pascoe and Jeremiah Bonson.

    Roger Kemp, “Sequence” (1970); Christian Thompson, “The Devil Made Him Do It” (2011); Christian Thompson, “Three Sisters” (2012); Warwick Thornton, “Untitled” (2013); Hannah Quinlivan, “Falling Through the Cracks”.

    Chen Ping, “Lonley Cloud Gordon River”; Kate Bergin, “The Venetian Room: (2016); Vicki Cullinan, “Stars in the Night Sky”.

    The kitchen features a striking two-tone island bench; the white marble powerfully juxtaposing the surrounding charcoal elements. In the dining and living room, a luxurious statement is made through the red velvet curtain, further emphasising the gallery-like aesthetic throughout the home. Upstairs on the terrace, several separate courtyards are connected through the central suspended swimming pool.

    The clients hoped for art to take the lead in the design, followed by the living spaces as the second priority. Techne’s careful articulation of spaces in the Prahran House delivers on this brief, serving as a sanctuary, an exhibition and a home.

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