Creators of the Huntingtower // John Bornas of Workroom Architecture and Bear Agushi from Agushi Construction


Words: Manuela Millan
photos: Derek Swalwell

We recently spoke with Bear Agushi from Agushi Construction and architect John Bornas of Workroom Architecture about their recent collaboration, the stunning Huntingtower house in Armadale. Huntingtower was designed and built as a home for developer Bear Agushi and his family and is a true labour of love. You can see the dedication to quality of materials and design in the attention and care given to each detail. The project features natural stone, timeless European Oak parquetry flooring, and rich and beautiful brass fixtures. We particularly enjoy the sculptural folded plate steel staircase and the way the soft wood  of the steps contrasts in colour and tone with the stark metal form. The architecture and interiors are complimented by the perfect selection of furniture and objects by stylist Simone Haag. 

We hope you enjoy this glimpse into a unique and beautiful Melbourne home.

 Workroom architecture interior design -Agushi-House Building-Meanwhile in Melbourne
 
Our approach to the house was very considered and transcends fashion. The connection between the building and the inhabitant is grounded through a rigorous exploration of scale, form, space and material.
— John Bornas - Workroom Director
 Workroom architecture interior design -Agushi-House Building-Meanwhile in Melbourne
 Workroom architecture interior design -Agushi-House Building-Meanwhile in Melbourne -kitchen
 

Workroom, founded by architect John Bornas, is a studio specialising in contemporary design and interiors in the residential, retail, commercial and hospitality sectors. As cocreators they build exceptionally designed high end homes with exciting finishes and living experiences. “Our approach to the house was very considered and transcends fashion. The connection between the building and the inhabitant is grounded through a rigorous exploration of scale, form, space and material. The delicate palette of materials and intricate detailing bestows elegance and luxury,” says Workroom Director and architect, John Bornas.

 Workroom architecture interior design -Agushi-House Building-Meanwhile in Melbourne -kitchen
 Workroom architecture interior design -Agushi-House Building-Meanwhile in Melbourne -kitchen
 Workroom -Agushi-House-Meanwhile in Melbourne-Architecture interior design
 

 MM: How did you end up working together?

JB: Actually, I don’t remember. I think we were introduced by somebody about 10 or so years ago. But we soon realised we worked together very well and have been doing so on a number of projects ever since. 


MM: What is your favourite room in the house? 

BA: My favourite room in the house is our “formal living” room. It’s the front room of the house which has two sides of glass that face the sunken garden. The outlook across our garden and the street trees are really beautiful to look at. Also, the way the room has been furnished makes it feel so cosy and comfy to just chill out in

What were the challenges while working on this project? 

BA: The challenges from a builder’s perspective was the tight access to the site. Nearly the whole block was excavated to create the massive basement which left little room for deliveries and access to the job. The immense detailing in the design also presented lot of challenges. Every detail had to be considered so far in advance because decisions on day one can affect the outcome on day 300.

MM: How important is for you to support local designers and makers? Do you have a favourite one?

JB: It’s incredibly important. We live in a globalised society and have access to an incredible array of product.  But there is nothing like working with someone personally to realise a vision. We have a wealth of talent here in Australia and I feel in Melbourne in particular. As we have been designing our own furniture and light fittings lately, it’s great to have the support of designers and makers who have the knowhow to bring these ideas to life. From leather workers, to glass blowers, to lighting designers and makers, they all add to what we are trying to achieve and it’s fantastic to have that personal relationship and connection to the product and process that can only be achieved by investing in someone locally.

BA: In this modern world of cheap knock-offs and designs by Pinterest and Instagram, I think it’s important to support local talent. It really takes a true creative to be able to put something together perfectly and that’s why I always engage the best in the industry (like Workroom). John and I have discovered a local lighting designer and maker called Daniel Giffin who’s lights we have used in a few spots in the project. He’s really talented and creative and easy to deal with. 

MM: Who/What are you most influenced by?

JB: Travel, food, culture, people and places. It gives me a sense of perspective. It recharges my soul and lets me see how others do things and allows me to look at things through a different lens when at home.

BA: I am mostly influenced by Workroom!

MM: How would you describe your style?

JB: I don’t necessarily subscribe to any particular style. I would like to think that while we use a particular language throughout all our projects, the story we tell with each one is different. That language is one of the exploration of from, space, material and light. Our aim is to create a timeless architecture. To positively add to the built environment, to give expression to a person’s needs and to make beautiful what would otherwise be the mundane. 

MM: What’s the most enjoyable part of doing what you do?

JB: For me it’s seeing a project under construction. It’s that wonderful point where thoughts and ideas become a tangible reality and knowing that soon your client will be able to experience your vision. 

MM: What are you currently working on at the moment?

JB: Together we are currently working on a couple of single and multi-residential developments.  In the studio we have several large residential projects under construction and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product. We also have a number of new projects on some amazing sites that we’re really excited and feel privileged to be working on. As well as some in the hospitality, commercial and hotel sectors. 

BA: We are currently working together on a new project in South Yarra and will be very similar to the Huntingtower job. It’s still in the early stages of planning and we should be commencing construction in June 2019. 

MM: Can you recommend a coffee place and a restaurant in Melbourne?

JB: Where I live, we have four coffee roasters within 300m so I’m spoilt for choice. Veneziano has just opened down the street so we’ve been trying that lately.  Restaurant? Distasio has always been a favourite. I haven’t been for a while …. Perhaps it’s time for a visit!

 Workroom -Agushi-House-Meanwhile in Melbourne-Architecture interior design
 Workroom -Agushi-House-Meanwhile in Melbourne-Architecture interior design
 Workroom -Agushi-House-Meanwhile in Melbourne-Architecture interior design
 
A narrative unfolds of stunning detail and tactile material, raw steel, dark panelled walls, concrete, bronze, timber and stone, elements that invite you to touch and feel
— Bear Agushi
 Workroom -Agushi-House-Meanwhile in Melbourne-Architecture interior design Simone Haag
 Workroom -Agushi-House-Meanwhile in Melbourne-Architecture interior design Simone Haag
 Workroom -Agushi-House-Meanwhile in Melbourne-Architecture interior design Simone Haag
 Workroom Architetcure_Agushi building_Meanwhiloe in Melbourne Simone Haag
 
Everyone must be on the same page to achieve such stunning results, and that means total dedication to achieving something outstanding. We believe that we’re completely attuned to client needs and, as it turned out, we think that Workroom read the minds of my wife and I when it came to creating our dream home
— Bear Agushi, Director of Agushi.
 Workroom Architetcure_Agushi building_Meanwhiloe in Melbourne
 Workroom Architetcure_Agushi building_Meanwhiloe in Melbourne - Furniture House
 Workroom Architetcure_Agushi building_Meanwhiloe in Melbourne - Bathroom Design
 Workroom Architetcure_Agushi building_Meanwhiloe in Melbourne - Furniture House