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Circa – Prince of Wales Hotel

Aug 7, 2012
  • Article by Meme
  • Photography by Terence Chin, Earl Carter
  • Designer Meme

The Prince of Wales Hotel in Melbourne’s St Kilda has been an institution within the local community since 1936, attracting a young, stylish, and vibrant clientele.

New owner, Julian Gerner, approached Meme in 2011 to creatively upgrade the Circa bar and dining room, to create a more laidback atmosphere. Mindful of the building’s history and predecessors, the challenge in the redesign was to once again reinvent and reconfigure the space, while also complementing the existing bones.

The dining room has been returned to its original location overlooking Catani Gardens and Port Philip Bay, allowing the balcony to be reopened for dining and re-connecting the space with its immediate street context. Drapes have been removed to create a more relaxed feel inside the space, while the brasserie’s traditional elegance has been enhanced by the etched window, clean white walls, solid oak tables and the client’s collection of Eames fibreglass chairs. Artworks curated by Utopian Slumps director Melissa Loughnan punctuate the surfaces while spaces, elements, and materials have been repurposed and furniture relocated for fresh consumption.

The idea was to use innovation through careful cultivation: new elements have been informed by, and are in dialogue with, the old. The new arrangement of existing furniture and materials allows the character of the original spaces to be clearly read, while also establishing new relationships. Innovation acts as an adaptive continuum rather than a complete redefinition. Through this design principle, Meme was able to build on the history of the project to create eclectic, authentic, familiar, and usable spaces which speak to the past, present, and future.

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