Willow Urban Retreat Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

 

It’s everything you’re looking for in a space to retreat to. It has all the calming elements of white and height with the spatial simplicity of a Japanese Dojo. The uncluttered nature of both this design and the effect it has on the clarity of one’s mind is impressive. This is unmistakably a space for immersing yourself in meditation and self-reflection; reconnecting you to your body and mind, not to mention your soul.

There are few things as beautiful in architecture as the simplicity of design expressed with pared-back materials, in a space exceptionally well planned. If you’re looking for an example, Willow Urban Retreat, designed by Melbourne-based Meme Design, will do just fine.

“Our process was to explore through the practice of design and how we can actively contribute to human health, performance and well-being by integrating the best innovations in building technologies, materials, planning and programming for a space that soothes the senses,” said interior designer Megan Hounslow about the project.

 

Related: Sum Of Us Health Studio in Melbourne by We Are Huntly.

 

Willow Urban Retreat in Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat in Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat in Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat in Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat in Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

 

Willow Urban Retreat consists of a wholefood cafe, movement and meditation studio, day spa and detox facility. It is housed in two double story heritage buildings in High Street, Armadale, Victoria. In the left building you’ll find the café and in the right, the spa and wellness centre. Working within the two narrow buildings, the titles are joined and opened up to maximise space, volume and natural light. They’ve achieved this through the insertion of an oversized arch to the shopfront.

“It’s a slice through the shared party wall to connect program and circulation and inform a spatial language of soft seamless curves at intersections and junctures between wall, floor and ceiling,” said the designers.

A central courtyard, skylights and a disciplined approach to material selection; natural stone, jade green onyx, and a continuously hand applied cement render with a pigmented in-situ cement gives the interior a beautifully articulated minimalism.

“Finishes are understated, minimum for simplicity, robust to withstand high usage and interchangeable usage. Featuring elements is a combined alchemy of water, earth (stone) metal (copper) and wood… to evoke a connection to nature and to unclutter the mind for a heightened sense of space, repose and silence,” commented the design team.

 

Willow Urban Retreat in Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat in Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat in Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

Willow Urban Retreat in Melbourne by Meme Design | Yellowtrace

 

The less-is-more approach, combined with a top-notch eye for detailing, has been curated simply with beautiful materials. And really, that’s what this duo, interior designer Megan Hounslow and architect Melanie Beynon really drew down on for their vision – architecture inspired by Ayurveda, Ying and Yang, Zen Buddhism and Wabi Sabi.

Arches, both within the joinery and the structural elements are the applied shape du jour as a nod to the original Victorian architecture. The unique charisma of the spaces comes with the added layers of handpicked furniture, textiles and lighting created in collaboration local artisans and makers. The Bar by artist Maddie Sharrock of Twocan is made from in-situ concrete. Although rigid in material, it is alive with the hand poured irregular pigmented colour.

Meme specifically refer to the fundamental values prized by Zen monks who sought solace and contentment in simplicity, purity, restraint and humility. There is something terribly relieving to be inside a space that encourages calmness and humility through the subtraction of materials and possessions. It is as though in the absence of the weight of our possessions, we are finally left in a space of gratitude and silence.

 

Related: Stories On Design: The Rise of Designer Health Studios.

 

 


[Images courtesy Meme Design. Photography by Sharyn Cairns.]

 

About The Author

Susanna McArdle

Susanna has a background in Interior Architecture and a passion for writing. Based in Sydney, she has worked both in Asia and Australia designing. An avid writer, it’s hard to know what she prefers more, stringing words together or creating spaces. But one thing she does know, is that she loves doing the both together.

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