Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 23 Summer 2009 Contents INSITE SUMMER 125
The Orient, the Vic Hotel, Frasers,
Sail and Anchor, Queens, Barista,
Pronto: they're places with heart,
places that generations have come to
call home largely because of one man's vision.
rough the 80s and 90s, Spaceagency
architect Michael Patroni was instrumental
in the development of our city's bar and
bistro scene, bringing his penchant for the
personal to almost every project under wing.
And even though we're now seeing a new
bunch of architects tackle the metropolitan
hotspots, his initial vision for more intimate
and dynamic Perth venues lives on.
"It was an exciting time being part of that
scene," Michael says. " e first contract I
got with my own firm was the Matilda Bay
Brewing Company, and my first project -- the
Sail and Anchor. at was 1984.
"From there I was involved with a whole
lot of pubs which were very successful
during the 1980s, and still are now. It was
a time that gave rise to the culture of
Much like a poet pens the reader's world,
Michael seeks to design spaces that strike a
special note with the dweller.
He's interested in the poetic quality of
architecture, the way buildings delight and
engage us, and invite us to bring something
personal to the spatial experience.
"In poetry, the poet always writes
something that's quite subjective," he says.
"But when someone else reads it, they bring
their own views and experiences to the
reading and come away with a narrative
that's meaningful to them.
" is is what I'm trying achieve in my
work. I want to create spaces that people
make their own by conjuring up personal
memories and feelings."
It wasn't until 2005, when Michael
completed his Masters of Architecture degree
at Melbourne's RMIT, that many of these
ideas found clarity.
e project, titled Intrigue, looks at his
methods of engaging the inhabitant from a
poetic point of view.
"It did take some reflection and research
to really distil my approach," he says. "All
my work has an element of intrigue in
the sense that it draws people in. It holds
them for a moment. But it wasn't until I sat
down and really thought about this that I
understood the poetry behind it."
While there are many designs that
exemplify his thinking, Michael speaks
particularly fondly of the Queens
development in 1986.
Working with an existing building, his
approach was to simply remove bones from
the original shell, rather than add new
"What startled me was how much risk
we took with that restoration. Because the
budget was quite low, our approach was
to take pieces away and not replace them.
It was a selected demolition. e idea was
to leave a whole set of clues as to what was
originally there -- again to create intrigue.
"It was about this imagery of old and new,
imagery that talks to me about ruins which
are also very poetic spaces, suggesting the
end of one thing, the beginning of another."
Although Michael has moved on from the
cafe and bar designs of his youth, dabbling
more in residential, multi-residential and
community projects these days, his
inquiry into the poetic nature of built
He takes me down the road from his
Fremantle-based practice to see his latest
project on Henry Street: a new three-storey
apartment building that floats over the
EVOCATIVE SPACES: The Henry Street apartment
interiors are full of character and intrigue.
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