Techne Architects transformation of The Espy

After its long-awaited reopening in late November 2018, Hotel Esplanade stunned patrons with a brand new look. A collaboration between owners Sand Hill Road, Techne Architecture and Interior Design and stylist Eleisha Gray, this project required a total reimagination of the space.

The Espy – as it’s affectionately known – was opened in 1878, designed by architects Alfred Louis Smith and Arthur Ebden Johnson. Beginning as an exclusive hotel before becoming an iconic live music venue, The Espy is one of the oldest and well-known buildings in Melbourne.focus fireplace in the Espy hotel

Given its past and the many, often controversial, redevelopment plans it has been subjected to, it’s fair to say this project came with its fair share of pressure. Unsurprisingly though, given Techne’s portfolio of previous work, The Espy has been utterly and magnificently transformed. Across some 3,000 square meters of this venue, Techne along with their team have undertaken a top to bottom overhaul. Now, every nook is open to the public once more, even the second floor which was sealed off for more than 60 years.

The sharp new interior of this enormous venue offers contemporary touches, without losing the history and Victorian character of the building. According to the designers, the overarching stylistic theme for this venue was ‘kick-arse Victorian grandeur’, a brief that has been met in each eclectic room. An ensemble of French chandeliers, local antiques, wall sconces, vintage fabrics and re-purposed gems sourced by interior stylist Eleisha Gray complete this vision.

So many features and spaces now make up this mesmerising building, it’s hard to pick a favourite. If pressed, however, ours would have to be the all-weather beer garden. An architectural feat in of itself, this space has been designed to mimic a greenhouse-like environment, finished with a retractable glass roof and ocean views. Patrons will truly be able to enjoy this space no matter the weather thanks to the inclusion of Filiofocus. Chosen by the architects for its unique style, here the Filiofocus has been set on an elevated platform. Given the brisk and blustery weather that comes off Port Phillip Bay, this room will offer the best seats in the house come winter!

The Techne Architecture team has truly transformed The Espy, paying homage to its original bones while incorporating layers of modern and vintage touches. We’re so pleased to see the Filiofocus act as a marvellous centrepiece in one of the many stunning rooms of this venue. And, even more pleased that this iconic building is once again part of Melbourne’s social scene.


First created in 2001 for a project by Lord Norman Foster the Filiofocus acts as a sculptural centrepiece and functional fireplace in one. A telescopic hood descends from the ceiling to a fire bowl below, resulting in an indoor fire pit look, while simultaneously creating the illusion of space.

From $36,000.00

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