With 11 floors, Temple Court stands at about 40-metres-tall – which was actually the maximum height for buildings back when it was constructed in 1924. Featuring a stately stone structure clad in concrete, it was originally designed as an office by architects Grainger Little Barlow and Hawkins.
Today, Melbourne’s skyline is filled with high-rises that tower over the complex, with the tallest stretching beyond 300 metres. But almost 100 years on, Temple Court has stood the test of time, serving as one of our city’s most unique apartment buildings!
The building’s ornate Neo-Baroque style, bay windows and heritage flair immediately caught the eyes of writer-director Dean Bryant and composer Mathew Frank when the couple were apartment hunting in 2010. They had been looking (and losing out) on apartments for more than a year before they finally landed their two-bedroom home, just around the corner from their work in Melbourne’s Arts Precinct.
‘We wanted to live inner city, in a building with history, and have natural light in every room,’ Dean says. And Temple Court ticked all the boxes.
‘The facade is so exquisite,’ Mathew adds. ‘Bank Place is alongside the building, which has amazing cafes and bars, as well as the Mitre Tavern, which is possibly the oldest pub in Melbourne. And even though it’s the heart of the city, it’s surprisingly quiet.’
Dean and Mathew’s apartment features concrete-covered beams and original steel-framed windows, in addition to exposed pipes they painted a bold blue when they renovated the kitchen and bathroom a few years ago. They’re also on ‘the only floor facing Collins Street with a balcony’, which affords breathtaking views above the tree-line and its changing leaves.
Aside from citing the challenges of finding a builder to compete their renovations who was willing to tackle the logistical challenges of their CBD location, the couple don’t have a bad word to say about living in the city.
Fellow resident Alischa Ross was drawn to Temple Court for all the same reasons. Having lived overseas in European cities before purchasing her first home, she was set on the ‘romantic idea’ of finding a heritage apartment in the heart of the city, with ‘soaring ceilings, in the midst of old laneways, with trams on the doorstep and bars and restaurants at every turn.’
When an almost 100sq m apartment with an 8-metre-long balcony came up inside Temple Court, she knew it was a rarity, and moved in by March 2020 – the same week that Covid lockdowns descended on Melbourne.
It made it ‘a nightmare’ to finish the renovations, but reconfiguring the space to fit a walk-in wardrobe into her preferred bedroom was worth it. There’s lots Alischa loves about the interiors, from the imperfect Tasmania Oak floorboards that have ‘had another life somewhere’ and the charming French doors, which open to a transformed balcony she painted in two contrasting tones of terracotta.
‘I love lanterns, mirrors and old Moorish design which has helped to create a Moroccan feel,’ Alischa says, and she describes the balcony’s outlook of the buildings below ‘as feeling like a European piazza’.
The apartment footprints vary across the building, making way for the diverse mix of residents who call Temple Court home – from students to retirees, and young professionals to families.
‘I know almost everyone on my floor and have made many friends throughout the building,’ Alischa says. ‘Temple Court feels like a community. I never imagined that moving into the CBD I’d feel more a part of a community than when I lived in the inner suburbs.’
In Melbourne’s ever challenging property market, these residents make a strong case for apartment living, especially in a heritage building like Temple Court. Perhaps it’s a sign that we need to find new ways to channel the architecture of the past in hopes of bringing more of these buildings (and their communities) to life.