Prahran factory

How this Prahran factory became a Melbourne couple’s dream house

PHOTO: Behind this bland facade art, a luxurious lifestyle is on offer. Photo: Tom Blachford

In the order of importance, the amazing artworks came first. This meant that for a Melbourne couple who are impassioned collectors and major gallery officials, the search for the right house to display their pieces was long and ultimately disappointing.

Eventually, Andrew Penn and Kallie Blauhorn capitulated on finding a conventional residence and instead hunted down a Prahran factory shell that with some modification could work for their two-fold brief.

Some modification!

After Techne Architecture and Interior Design had fitted out the ground floor as a gallery and pushed above the roof of the early 1900s red-brick building to put in deluxe domestic accommodation, they certainly had themselves “a very special project that is not your everyday thing,” according to Techne director Nick Travers.

From the pavement, Prahran House remains ordinary and reticent, or what Travers calls “a relatively prosaic structure with no ornamentation or decoration”.

The sign over the roller door that says “Holt and Sinn Industries Pty” might suggest the place still operates as a textile mill. But that’s an artful ruse. Taking the names of two past and different era owners from the title search register, Travers says “we fabricated a fake business name”.

It was a playful attempt to “perpetuate a myth of what’s going on inside and to maintain privacy”.

Inside is “a structure within a structure” that has made several contiguous but mutating gallery spaces, which kept exposed sections of the brickwork while laying across them “floated hanging surfaces”.

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