A five-level building at 113 Wellington Street, St Kilda, could be anything from an office, like many in the mixed-use street, a showroom or even headquarters for a creative agency.
One could even mistake this “new kid on the block” for a luxury boutique-style hotel.
In reality, it’s home to builder David McCallum, director of DDB Design Development & Building, that he shares with his wife, interior designer Maryanne Quealy, their children and a couple of their partners.
“Our brief to our architect Matt Gibson [director of Matt Gibson Architecture + Design] was to accommodate up to seven people,” says McCallum, who received three Master Builder Association Awards for this project.
Given the site’s location, in a mixed-use zone, with everything from substantial terrace homes to 1960s walk-up flats, the only restriction given was for this development to include an office at ground level.
While a modest workspace was provided by Gibson and his team, which can be occupied independently, together with off-street car parking, everything else is a complete surprise.
“People regularly ask us if these are apartments?” says McCallum, who was fortunate to outbid developers on the day of the auction.
One of the reasons the site, previously an Edwardian-style home, wasn’t bowled over for apartments was its land size, of approximately 190 square metres and only just under seven metres in width (the width of a generous single-fronted terrace).
“For the next 10 years it’s a home. However, given the changing nature of this area, this place could ‘morph’ into another use,” he adds.
As with many cities with burgeoning populations, such as New York, Tokyo and London, the direction on this sliver of a site could only be up.
If this is an example of the direction in future housing, “bring it on”. Access to the home is via a steep set of stairs that takes visitors to a dramatic nine-metre-high void.
Each of the four levels (not including the office at ground level) is beautifully expressed in the void, with glazed walls allowing glimpses into the rooms above.
“Connectivity was something David and Maryanne spoke about from the outset of the design process,” says Gibson, who conceived of the scheme as a series of stacked glass boxes defining each of the functions within.
“We initially looked at the large Victorian terraces nearby, with their deep verandahs and bay windows, some casting deep shadows,” says Gibson.
The first floor, dominated by the central atrium, includes the open plan kitchen, dining area and lounge, the latter overlooking cars passing along the Queens Way underpass, an effect not dissimilar to looking at a Jeffrey Smart painting.
The family tends to gravitate to the island bench, an endless six-metre-long marble bench.
“I recall Maryanne asking Matt if we could have the type of island bench you might find in the reception area of a hotel,” says McCallum.
The second level of the St Kilda abode is given over to a child’s bedroom on one side of the void and on the other is a rich tapestry of spaces associated with the main bedroom, a generous en suite and dressing area, not dissimilar in layout to a five-star hotel suite.
“We recently stayed at a hotel in Istanbul that included its own private Turkish spa,” says McCallum.
Two addition bedrooms, together with a lounge area for the children are discovered on the next level.
On the top floor, where the city views and light are even more acute, is what’s referred to as “the night club”, a floor with extensive timber floors and ceiling.
Accessed from a set of timber stairs to one side, this top level, complete with a northern terrace on one side and an eastern balcony on the other, is pure “party mode”.
“This area is quite bustling. But when we arrive home, you feel as though you’ve arrived at an oasis. It is pure calm,” says McCallum.