University of Melbourne Magazine

Visions splendid

  • Stefan Mee inside the new Melbourne School of Design.

    Stefan Mee inside the new Melbourne School of Design.

    STEFAN MEE (BPD 1990, BArch(Hons) 1993)

    John Wardle Architects

    Melbourne School of Design (with Boston’s NADAAA): A “teaching tool” building wrapped in overlapping perforated zinc panels, with a four-level atrium at its heart. Flagstaff Crisis Accommodation Centre, North Melbourne: Short-term housing for homeless men in four zinc-skylighted black wire-cut brick buildings framing a large interior courtyard.

    As a teenager, Stefan Mee planned to study music but made a last-minute change to architecture. It came about, he reckons, from a love of assembling things, something he absorbed from his schoolteacher/handyman father, and a love of art materials, inspired by his schoolteacher/painter mother.

    After graduation, Mee landed a job in architect John Wardle’s tiny two-person Carlton practice. Within a year he was project architect on his first major building, the Flagstaff Crisis Accommodation Centre in North Melbourne. This complex project prepared him for increasingly responsible design and leadership roles in a practice that was expanding into city projects, such as the high-rise The Urban Workshop, and taking on large educational institutional jobs. He was thrilled to be one of the design leaders for the Melbourne School of Design.

    Architecture can be about a combination of ideas – abstract ideas that engage the intellect; ideas about language that converse with its history; organisational ideas that speak to its use; and observational ideas that react to a given site and create a distinct sense of place. The best architecture will do all of this but also be considerate of the way that people inhabit and interact with it.

    Carlo Scarpa’s Querini Stampalia Foundation restoration in Venice; Munster City Library by Bolles + Wilson. Locally, Robin Boyd for his Walsh Street House.

    “I recall my thesis supervisor, Professor Philip Goad (BArch(Hons) 1984, PhD 1993, Medley Hall), saying it was important to write down your position on architecture every year or two as a way of clarifying what you had learnt and considered important.

    So I have always been a keen writer about particular projects as well as the ideas and direction of our practice.”

    Melbourne School of Design

    Melbourne School of Design.