prahran Hotel

Behind the architect and client relationship with Technē and Sand Hill Road

Oct 19, 2018
  • Article by Natalie Mortimer

While many client-architect relationships may only cover one project, Technē Architecture + Interior Design has shown how to build a long lasting working relationship with hospitality client Sand Hill Road spanning more than 10 years.

In the lead-up to the opening of the Hotel Esplanade in St Kilda, a collaboration between the practice and client, Justin Northrop from Technē reflects on how the relationship that has developed resulted in a myriad of well-known projects including Garden State Hotel, The Bridge Hotel and Prahran Hotel.

The pair began working together in 2006 starting with minor renovations to a pub in Rockhampton. Technē has now worked across over 20 projects on Sand Hill Road’s behalf encompassing not only public venues but also the residences of the company owners.

The Prahran Hotel
The Prahran Hotel

Technē director Justin Northrop says that they are fortunate to work with Sand Hill Road across multiple projects, affording them the advantage of a long- standing relationship.

“Our input into projects has grown incrementally as Sand Hill Road has expanded,” he says. “It’s definitely easier working with someone when there is a trusting relationship. It also means that we don’t have to sell ideas and we can use effective means to explain design elements,” he adds.

Northrop says there are benefits of working with a client over such a lengthy period of time including the evolution of a mutual understanding that leads to interesting and thoughtful outcomes.

“When working with a client over a relatively extensive period, it has been important to maintain a certain freshness while being able to hone repeated
details and elements.

“When we receive a new brief, we already have a good understanding of their requirements and the type of businesses they run, this enables us to get to the creative part of the process more quickly. It’s great working on their hospitality projects, in part because we can revisit them to see if they are used as imagined,” says Northrop.

Garden State Hotel
Garden State Hotel

Matt Mullins, director at Sand Hill Road, has found the importance of using an architect on their projects the hard way. “We designed our first few pubs ourselves and looking back, that was a big mistake. As soon as we decided to grow up, we went straight to Justin and Technē.

“Since that first job 15 years ago, Technē have worked on over 20 projects with us from full hotel rebuilds to partial renovations to the design of our private homes,” says Mullins.

From a client point of view, Mullins believes the key to achieving the idyllic relationship with an architect involves good design outcomes, understanding of the client needs and a dynamic design process.

The Terminus Hotel
The Terminus Hotel

“Anyone using an architect, either once in their lives or once a year, would benefit from a strong relationship. The reason we keep coming back to Justin is because of Technē’s willingness to truly understand our needs rather than impose their own needs.

“On top of that, over the years we have developed a wonderful shorthand between our two companies. It makes the design process so meaningful and efficient. More than anything else though, they continue to deliver exceptional design,” he continues.

While operating in completely separate spheres, the two brands have a certain alignment that is another ingredient in the pair’s success story.

“We are different businesses but both value a collaborative approach. We care most about good ideas rather than be fussy about where ideas have come from,” says Northrop.

“The Espy is going to be Sand Hill Road’s biggest project yet and Technē is excited to be joining them on the journey that brings this impressive building back to life,” he continues.

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