Ioa Studio renovated a 150-year-old heritage pub in North Melbourne into an eclectic, modern urban retreat. Ioa’s client wasn’t averse to a bit of risk-taking, so when looking for a new home, she bought the oldest building they could find. The 150-year-old Kings Arms Hotel redesign was initially approached via a number of different design iterations. The Ioa team quickly realised the old pub had its own agenda, forcing the designers to be present on site more, designing within the actual space. Once the original clinical office interior started disappearing they found all sorts of interior surprises that ended up informing the final modern design, from original brickwork and cracking hardened plaster to Oregon rafters and a gable roof.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to the design was the small footprint. Installing curved walls, fitted with White Polar Wall Lights created undulating, bringing a sense of flow and energy to a rooms, which allowed small nooks and hidden spaces, including a mezzanine area, to have the illusion of open spaces. There’s a delightful tactility to the finishes and details, from upstairs’ seagrass-lined ceiling and floor and curved Blackbutt panels to the large blue velvet curtain that closes off the living areas when drawn.
The resulting scheme is a playful, elegant study in how old and new can co-exist, without one distracting from the other. Ioa’s hands-on approach proved advantageous, allowing the architects to be able to experiment with materials and colours, than a studio design would have allowed.