'Melbourne firm Hachem has been appointed to design the W Hotel.'

Marriott makes a nice fit for Cbus 'Pantscraper'.

Japan's Daisho will buy the hotel component of Cbus Property's Collins Street development in Melbourne in a $220 million deal.

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The $1.25 billion mixed-use project comprises two towers linked by a skybridge in a dramatic design which has earned it a popular moniker as the "Pantscraper".

Collins Arch, as it is more formally known, includes a hotel component of 294 rooms across 15 levels as well 205 apartments and 49,000sq m of office space. The hotel will be operated as a W Hotel.

Japanese billionaire Katsumi Tada's Daisho – which owns a string of hotels including the Park Hyatt in Sydney – will acquire the hotel in a deal understood to be worth at least $220 million.

Global hotelier Marriott International will operate the venue through its top range W brand, the first to be opened in Melbourne.

"Collins Arch was designed as a world-class destination and we're extremely excited to announce W Hotels as operator of our luxury hotel," said Cbus Property chief executive Adrian Pozzo.

Melbourne firm Hachem has been appointed to design the hotel's interiors.

"It's an amazing location, smack bang in the middle of the trendy shopping and entertainment district. It will appeal to jet setters and trend setters," Sean Hunt, Marriott's vice-president for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, told The Australian Financial Review.

"We're very bullish about Melbourne. It's a very strong market, just like Sydney."

The W is one of Marriott International's luxury brands, placing it above five-star brands such as the Westin and alongside Ritz Carlton, St Regis and Bulgari.

Mr Hunt said room rates had not yet been set for the new W hotel. "It will be a market-leading hotel in terms of product offering so rates will be positioned accordingly."

The new hotel is one of five luxury hotels in the region being developed by Marriott, including a W Brisbane and Ritz-Carltons in Melbourne, Perth and Auckland.

The hotel deal was brokered by Savills' Michael Simpson, who said the opportunity had been hotly contested by investors while a number of luxury brands had shown interest.

Australian Financial Review - Nick Lenaghan and Larry Schlesinger

Hachem's Bond Lounge Wins big.

Hachem is proud to accept the Overall Annual Best Club Space Award from the Modern International Design Awards. 

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Held in Shenzhen, the awards recognized outstanding design innovations from around the world.Hachem’s Bond Lounge in Melbourne took the top spot in the Overall Best Club Space category. Founder and principal designer, Fady Hachem says the firm has been privileged to receive the award. 

“It is incredibly humbling to have been recognised on an international stage,” he said.

Hachem would like to also extend its gratitude to the staff of Modern Decoration Magazine, who were responsible for Hachem’s entrance into the international competition. 

Sleeper Magazine

Fady Hachem’s imaginative branding strategy and interior design adds new flavour to Melbourne’s Adelphi Hotel

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To design a hotel is no easy feat. There is the need not only to provide guests with a good night’s rest, but also a memorable experience engaging all the senses. To breathe new life into an existing hotel is, in that aspect, an even harder task. What should be retained? What should be altered? This was the task at hand given to Fady Hachem of his eponymous Melbourne-based design studio for a well-know Melbourne establishment – the Adelphi Hotel.

Denton Corker Marshall opened the Adelphi Hotel in 1992. The original owners and architecture firm had transformed the former soft goods and garments warehouse into a cool, minimalist hospitality destination that was labelled Australia’s first boutique hotel. capping the eight-storey block along the centrally located Flinders Lane was a swimming pool that dramatically cantilevered two meters off the building, its glass bottom providing both guests and passers-by an exhilarating experience.

The Adelphi Hotel was the hotel to be seen in until the late nineties when Denton Corker Marshall sold up. Dogged by multiple issues, including disruptive construction works from the opposite site, the hotel slid into a decade of slow decline, culminating in forced liquidation in early 2013. This situation however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The Adelphi Hotel’s then – and current – General Manager Dion Chandler took a leap of faith and with a team of partners comprising of Ozzie Kheir and Simon & Roger Ongarato, bought out the establishment.

The works were completed just in time for the Adelphi Hotel’s 21st birthday, and garnered it a place in the catalogue of Design Hotels’ curated fold of hotel experiences with a design edge.

Hachem wins Good Design Selection in Sydney

Hachem’s ultra-luxurious Bond Lounge design won good design selection in the 2015 Good Design Awards in Sydney under the Architectural Design category. 

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Hachem was proud to place itself in the good company of the other entrants. With its signature curves, the Bond Lounge offers surreal escapism through high-end design. Along with transformative spaces and customised furnishings the Bond Lounge creates a dynamic environment within a compact area.

The Bond Lounge also features an entire bar service designed specifically to benefit of wheelchair and ambulant patrons and specialised auditory systems for the hearing impaired. Celebrating over 50 years of excellence in Australian design, the Good Design Awards Gala Night is one of Australia’s longest standing and most prestigious events celebrating innovation and creativity.

It is a privilege that Hachem will stand among the excellent quality of designers that these awards attract. 

Hachem takes out best UK & international Category.

Hachem has been honoured by the award for Best International Design award in the prestigious Restaurant & Bar Design Awards hosted in London.

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The award was granted for the innovative Bond Lounge in Melbourne.

With thousands of entries from around the world, the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards highlight the very best in design for food and beverage spaces. 

This was not the first design award the Bond Lounge has won, with the critically acclaimed night club also being honoured at the Modern International Design Awards in Shenzhen and the Good Design Awards in Sydney.

The success of the Bond Lounge is reflective of Hachem’s increasing reputation in international markets as consistent providers of cutting-edge design.

Fady Hachem was delighted to accept the award in person before racing back to Melbourne for the birth of his second child Willis.

14/15 Restaurant & Bar Design Awards

While you were relaxing in the sun over the weekend, Fady was in London showing them how Hachem does things here in Melbourne.

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“Super classy for a nightclub, love the lighting design; especially the ceiling, sexy and cool just like James himself. Studded chairs and ottomans add the bling, the polka dotted carpeting. Looks as if you walked in to one of his nemesis’ lairs.”


KUDOS Magazine

Hospitality work is almost always exciting. No matter what scale the project, you’re always trying to push the creative boundaries.

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Hospitality is a very competitive market and clients need an edge, so typically the briefs are not solely focused on functionality. The need to extend the project parameters and to drive a higher level of patron experience makes for exciting projects. It’s a market sector that I will always be part of, projects that allow freedom to explore my skills and creativity, allow me to indulge.

On the elements that help he project hit the mark:

Design has evolved over the years. It’s no longer just about aesthetics; design has acquired a new skillset, the experience of the end user is a critical as the visual impact. The role of the designer/architect is to understand the project and, through clever design and consideration of the project, transform it to a more profound experience for the user.

On the elements you’d spend an unlimited project budget on:

Immediately I would say technology. There are so many new products and methods of construction that helps a project reach its full potential. For instance, sustainability technologies often bring to the table a better resolution for the project and is extremely important to the needs of today and our future.

On a dream project opportunity:

I have big ambitions! A dream project would undoubtedly be a hotel on the water somewhere in the tropics. Not only does it require engineering feats to construct such a project, it also requires highly creative work in all aspects; architecturally right through to the interiors and functionally. It’s also the type of place I love to experience

On a favourite design era:

I love the Art Deco period; I always have and the reason being that it weds high detail motifs with technology and the era, in general, contains a sense of liberation. It’s often my inspiration with projects that require details with a little glitz and glam. You can imagine 1920’s France would be an experience like no other.


The Cool Hunter

For as long as architecture and music have coexisted they have been far more dependent on each other than one may have initially realized. There is an equidistant between how architecture has shaped the evolution of music and how music has done the same for architecture.

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It’s the notion of harmony within spaces, that essential idea that the engrained harmony and vibrancy that flows through a space then goes on to give that overall place a particular identity and then in the reverse order.

As early as the 1400’s architects would use music to define structure for the most beautiful of building types.

Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti described it in this way;

“We shall therefore borrow all our Rules for Finishing our Proportions, from the Musicians, who are the greatest Masters of this Sort of Numbers, and from those Things wherein Nature shows herself most excellent and complete.”

On the flipside to this, time has seen music progressively adapting to fit the containers in which it is being exhibited in, hence the birth of electronic music and stadium rock.

So how does this all relate to a somewhat hidden nightclub tucked away within a laneway in Melbourne’s CBD? The answer to that is it’s a further continuation of this evolutionary partnership between the worlds of music and design.

It’s ‘Bond’, a place built upon bold spaces, bold design and bold harmonies which evoke a sense of confidence, as if you’ve ordered a martini shaken not stirred and are playing it effortlessly cool.

The sleek lines and curvature in the design mimic the music which pulsates from wall to wall and overtime as the music has evolved so has the place, into a sophisticated sub-ground lair with just the right amount of retro edge.

Most impressively Bond holds a particular contextual importance as it is attached to an inner-city carpark facility, notoriously known as the big ugly villain with metal teeth within any city. Yet this carpark has now become the beautiful woman sitting at the bar with a hidden mystery.

Bond’s interior layout combines the fluidity, openness and vibrancy of an amphitheater with intimate corners, enclosed booths, and numerous private settings, brought to life by state of the art lighting and sound and custom made furnishings.

This kind of execution doesn’t come about cheap nor does it occur without the work of a design team which appreciates the harmonies and spaces within a place.

Fady Hachem of Melbourne-based design and architectural studio ‘Hachem’ first encountered Bond as 21-year-old graduate from RMIT, where he managed to do what any other student would struggle to and convince the then owners to let him develop the interior concepts, bold brand development and manage their sites $2m overhaul.

As does music and architecture go in circles drawing from the old to create new so has Bond. Hachem many years later was re-commissioned to do a $5m refurbishment creating an interior layout that is so far removed from anything you’ve seen in Melbourne, evoking a feeling of escapism and luxury. Ironically it does feel like you’re on the movie set for the latest James Bond film.

By creating a multi-functional space, Bond is now capable of catering to a wider variety of clientele. The bar promotes a New York styled bottle service and punters can enjoy a $50,000 exclusive experience that comes with helicopter rides, a personal chauffeur, masseuse, private waitresses to Cuban cigars and a range of drinks such as a personalised 15L bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label and Bond edition Bollinger. Very Bond indeed!

Bond is more than a nightclub or a bar, its architectural elegance meets ultimate nightlife experience and has set the tone for future design within its field in Australia. To experience the harmonies, spaces and place visit Bond at 16-24 Bond St, Melbourne


House Trends

Opened in 1992, the Adelphi Hotel soon attracted attention thanks to its interesting combination of contemporary designs with sensational features, such as the swimming pool located on the ninth floor, with stunning views over the streets of Melbourne.

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The golden era was followed, however, in the late 1990s, by a period of decline, after being sold by Denton Corker Marshall. Its comeback would only happen in 2013, when the new owners – Dion Chandler, Ozzie Kheir and Simon Ongarato – commissioned Hanchem to give the hotel a full makeover: from the branding and the logo to the interior design, everything has been completely revised to bring the Adelphi Hotel back to centre stage.

With the tagline «engage your senses», the new-look Adelphi Hotel has the sweetness of desserts as its central theme and it is from this that Hanchem has created a visual identity that gradually stirs each of the guests’ senses, in a banquet of sophistication and refinement.

Although the Om Nom restaurant, with its irresistible desserts, is in control of the hotel’s central theme, references to these gastronomic delights can be found throughout: black flooring and walls cover the rooms as if melted chocolate, while the colourful detailing refers to the bright colours of the desserts, creating a sumptuous atmosphere, in which all the senses are equally stimulated to produce a sweet and unforgettable experience in Melbourne.


Dion Chandler And Fady Hachem
The Willy Wonka of Hospitality

When two lateral thinkers got together in Melbourne, the result was a deeply imaginative world with bright bursts of kaleidoscopic colors, wacky shapes, and delicious experiences.

“Life is uncertain, so eat dessert first.”

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The Adelphi Hotel’s motto is literally shouted from its sweet corner on Flinder’s Lane in Melbourne. This is, after all, the world’s first hotel where the dessert theme prevails, even as the main focus in its restaurant, minibar, and its bar (liquid desserts, anyone?). Managing Director Dion Chandler admits to having a rather sweet tooth, which is why when designer Fady Hachem brought the idea to him, he was all for it.

“Hachem’s wife came up with a dessert bar concept for the hotel and we sort of grew organically from there,” explains Chandler. “We wanted it to be a sensorial experience so we have cushions that resemble sweets, while specially created scents in the lobby give you the feeling of entering a patisserie.”

It’s no surprise that Chandler went for something so daring after procuring this property, the first hotel that he can truly call his own. True, he’d been in hotel business for quite a while, but as part of large chains. With Adelphi, however, he could finally implement ideas that targeted the creative few and not the largest number of people possible. After finishing his degree at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School, the Sydneysider came up against a lot of rules in chain hotels that suppressed his enthusiasm for creating ‘wow’ moments for guests.

The Adelphi is his ode—and antidote—to those frustrations: “We do personal messages for guests on the mirrors at the hotel and they love it,” he says. “It wasn’t a welcome idea at my previous job. I also always found the idea of getting a fruit plate for your 10th stay really boring. Instead, why not on your 6th stay you get concert tickets or something equivalent. Recently I got a Sydney Swans football t-shirt for a regular guest’s son, signed by Adam Goods. He wears it all the time. Its about paying attention to detail.”

Also a stickler for detail, Fady Hachem had a tall order to convert the iconic Adelphi Hotel into something unique while retaining its original industrial element. “In 1993, Australian hospitality was big on minimalism. So the original hotel was cold,” he explains.

“We wanted to do something special. So we experimented with new things; everything had to have texture to it. Thus the chairs are really fluffy; the leather tables in the restaurant are tactile, and so on. Then we thought about how we’d bring taste to the spaces. We have a specialized dessert drinks wagon and offer custom desserts with the turn down service.”

The prolific designer leads one of Australia’s most progressive studios. In fact Hachem’s career in this field began rather accidentally while he was at university. “At 19, I had the chance to work on my first bar, Drew, which belonged to my cousin and me. It was a great success. After that I worked on a real commercial project, the award-winning Bond Lounge Bar. It involved interior design, branding, and graphic design…quite a big project for someone so inexperienced.” But thanks to Hachem’s natural talent, the bar won a national award and was voted among the world’s best bars. In fact, the story has come full circle with the Melbourne native assigned yet again to revamp the bar.

As far as the Adelphi is concerned, the happy collaborators have a big project ahead of them: redoing Melbourne’s most famous pool (it rests eight story’s up and juts out over the city). Whatever the final result looks like it will no doubt be a sweet addition.


Good Design begins at the end of your comfort zone

There are personalities in the design world that you can’t wait to hear from. Because of their attitude, charisma and interesting mind. Fady Hachem, principle and founder at Hachem, is a risk-taker, a leader and definitely one of them.

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You are considered to be a risk-taker. What is your idea of risk, when applied to a project you are working on and when was the last time you took a risk?

I take risks all the time, but not at the same level for each project. Research is paramount to ensuring how far you can push the boundaries. Ultimately the client seeks value, therefore balancing the level of risk with the return on investment is critical to this process. As we are engaged from the very start, I’m a strong believer that we need to understand the ‘pros & cons’ to help inform our strategy. When I talk about risk, I’m referring to calculated risk. Never underestimate your gut feeling, and go for the big Idea!

You head a team of thirty designers and architects. What is, in your opinion, that makes a good leader? Can you mention something special a professional should have to work with you?

In my opinion, leadership is about inspiring others to achieve their potential. Architects have much to learn from Graphic Designers as do Graphic Designers from Architects. Good leadership should embrace the unknown and encourage growth. This however is not for everyone and those who are willing to learn new skills benefit from this form of leadership. I look for that appreciation and willingness to expand knowledge beyond one’s own skill set.

Is there a space in the world you haven’t designed that you really wish you could have designed?

A New York rooftop is on top of the list. I’m in my mid-thirties so I haven’t given up on the idea! I love designing for the overseas market because it takes you out of your comfort zone and that excites me.
Can you mention a contemporary architect or designer you wish you could work with?

Growing up, Renzo Piano was my design idol. To me, the Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center in New Caledonia encompassed all things architecture and branding. It transformed the country into a tourist haven for the region. Working with him would be a highlight in my career.

Hachem is very well known for the hotel development field. Which is the best hotel in the world, in your opinion, and why?

That’s a tricky one to answer. There are so many hotels in recent times that have been completed that I haven’t visited. From the ones I have visited, my choice would be the Burj al Arab; its design is not my style but I greatly admire the engineering feat it had accomplished at the time. It epitomises the gusto for innovation of the UAE.

Mention an historical building (not designed by a living architect) that is overrated.

It’s hard to critique works, which you have not directly been involved with. If I need to mention one I would say, The Michael d Eisner building.


Marketing Magazine Online

Brand strategy underpins every architecture and interiors project by Fady Hachem’s agency, Hachem, but he’s one of the designers defying industry norms. A disconnect exists between designers and branding, he believes, and he’s committed to combating it. Hachem credits well-researched and thoughtful brand strategy for his self-described “very high success rate” for bold redesigns of Melbourne venues including Bond, Adelphi Hotel and Mon Bijou, and architectural projects such as Ecoville. Marketing finds out more in this interview.

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Marketing: Can you start off by telling me a bit about your approach to design and how branding comes into that?

Fady Hachem: When I first started I actually had a degree in graphic design, so I've come from the idea of branding, and then I moved into interiors and architecture. And I felt there was a disconnect between what we were producing from a design perspective and what the actual branding was. What often happens is the client will come and engage an architect to do something and then they’ll go and engage a branding or graphic designer to do something else and there’s a disconnect between the two. For me it was always about, ‘What’s the initial idea?’ and that’s a branding thing. I always start from the branding ideals, what the project means, and that informs the design.

From a branding perspective, we go in there, we delve into what the brand needs, and that includes research: what’s the target market, what the consumer expects, what’s the edge and also what we can value-add, through the design or through the experience

M: One of your well-regarded projects was the redesign and re brand of the Adelphi Hotel. Can you tell us about that project?

FH: They commissioned us to do the interior and there was no discussion about the brand, it was just, ‘Okay, come in and re-do the interior’. They had a hotel, it was failing miserably, it was in receivership twice, it just was a bad project. We started questioning, ‘What are you actually marketing? What’s your brand? What’s your demographic?’ They really didn't have the answers, so they were sort of shooting in the dark as well, and they thought the design itself would just make it successful. I mean, it really is a key component but that doesn't mean that if you have a beautifully interior designed hotel that you’re going to be successful, because you see a lot that are beautiful but they fail – it comes down to what the brand means. Then I sort of educated them into actually going for a brand strategy first and then delving into the interiors.

My first protocol was to investigate the reasons why it failed. It had such a great start, you know, 20 years ago, DCM [Denton Corker Marshall] converting this old industrial building into this hotel. The trend was this warehouse conversion, from warehouse into dwellings or apartments. They had a great success, it was groundbreaking for that time. They had an overhanging pool and all the interiors had kind of like had this industrial, clean, stark look and feel. But that was 20 years ago and obviously trends have changed. It changed hands a few times, and I think over the years it got derelict, there was no love. The other thing was the staff had sort of all but given up as well, and once that creeps into the culture, it’s only downhill from there.

We investigated the history, we spoke to the previous owners, the new owners, all this research that was involved and it all comes from the branding point of view. Nothing to do with the interior at the moment but we’re just trying to figure out why it’s failing. One of the other things we did is conduct a survey, so I took in about 20 people to experience the hotel for a night, that included some of my staff who were working on the project, their partners and a few other key people, just to see what are they offering in this hotel. You need to experience something before you start designing, in my opinion

M: So out of that, after all the research, you put together some ideas and started to form what the interiors could be?

FH: Yes, well first of all what came out of it, was the Adelphi name still resonated but the actual brand image of Adelphi had failed. No one actually had any positive [comments]. There was positive feedback from old clientele that remembered the Adelphi Hotel in its heyday and how wonderful it was, but all the new generation had no idea. They knew the name but they didn't actually know what it was about.

So in order for us to change everything and give it a new start we had to come up with one big idea, something that would break that negative stigma. Being in the Flinders Lane precinct, which has become the Mecca for food and art I think in Melbourne – it’s got some of the best restaurants in the country, Chin Chin, Coda, Movida – it had a very distinctive, understated element to it, so I wanted to capture that. But what I did find out through the research is none of them had been involved from a food perspective in desserts, and I thought that was a niche market that we could break into. Out of that came the idea of, ‘What about if we just convert this into a dessert hotel?’ So we started doing research into dessert hotels around the world and we couldn't find anything at all. So it was an idea, and it came through the research and seeing what that district was about. When I presented it to the new owners, they loved it but they were very nervous because it was such a bold idea. I did say to them, ‘You’ve got to break the market, you’re a boutique hotel in a very competitive market. What’s your edge? Here’s the history of the Adelphi Hotel, so doing an interior design to make it look pretty doesn't necessarily mean its going to be successful. You need to start marketing or have a brand that can actually resonate with the public’.

The other thing was they had to get an anchor tenant in my opinion, a restaurant on level two. So what better anchor tenant than a dessert restaurant? Then we created the Om Nom dessert restaurant, and it had its own marketing strategy, backed by [head chef] Christy Tania who was creeping up to the food popularity as a dessert chef. That also helped to develop people’s perception of the hotel as well, because that experience at Om Nom also carried through the experience in the hotel. That whole strategy did inform the design, so we ended up doing the rest of the interior design based on that dessert concept.
It’s not Willy Wonka-type design, its more refined and luxury, but it has that dessert element to it – the colours, the textures, the tones… and it was also about the five senses, because one thing that came out of our strategy was, you’re in a hotel, it’s all about the sensory experience. You've got dessert smells throughout the hotel, we accentuate the leather smells as well, and for the touch experience it’s very textural, and there’s the sound component as well. The owner, Dion Chandler, is really open-minded too, so we’re having a client that actually thinks outside the box. We also had a discussion about what kind of experiences people were going to have.

M: Going back to what you said at the start: that you found interior design/architecture clients have that disconnect with branding, why do you think that is? Where does it come from?

FH: That’s a good question. The disciplines of interior design and architecture, come from a longer history than branding or graphic design, so that whole thing about understanding what the brand is you’re not taught in university. So there is that immediate disconnect. I felt that disconnect doing my first major interior job, Bond bar, and this was 15 years ago I think.
I did the interior but I started learning that the branding ideals are just as important, because it really does define what the project is. Clients come to me often with the planning for an apartment block and they want to brand it, and it’s like, ‘Well what’s your point of difference?’ and they have no point of difference – it’s just an apartment block. What we often end up doing is a branding strategy and then changing the design to suit the strategy. For us it’s about the success of the project – you have to really understand what you’re trying to sell: ‘Alright, you’re selling an apartment, but so is everyone else in that market. What’s your point of difference?’ Really minimising the risk and increasing the chances of success, we do that through the branding.

M: Going back to Bond, in your biography that I was sent, it says you convinced the owners you could develop the interior concept and you were just straight out of uni. That sounds pretty bold. Could you go through that story?

FH: I was at the end of my uni, I was studying graphic design and working at a venue as the doorman. The client was actually looking at the place down the road, and he didn't have a lot of money. It was about 600 square metres; pretty big for a bar in Melbourne 15 years ago, and it’s under a basement of a car park. The rent was cheap, he wanted to do it, and I just put my hand up and said, ‘I’ll do it’, and we just struck a deal. I did it for basically nothing and for me it was more of an experience of what I could take out of it, and I designed it and also built it. I basically aged 10 years in two! But for me, I don’t back down, if I've got something I want to do, I just do it. Now I think, ‘How bold was I back then?’

It was really successful. The brand came into that – the whole curvature of the ceiling was really groundbreaking back then, and it had good accolades because it was so different. I realized from then if i can do something different its probably better than doing something safe. so go bold or go home, pretty much.

M: Do you get the impression that your approach to design is unconventional in that you’re so in touch with the branding side of things? Or are there other designers out there that are getting on board this and helping the clients in that way?

FH: I think when I first started, people thought I was crazy. There were all these territories: if you’re in branding and graphic design, you don’t go into interiors. It’s actually merged now. You get a lot of architecture firms hiring graphic designers to be part of the process, so the mindset has changed. But I still find it hard to find someone who’s skilled in all three disciplines, but the lines are becoming blurred now, which is a good thing for the industry. That’s why I think you’re finding the level of design and branding at a much higher level now than it was, say 10 years ago.

M: Do you see that clients’ expectations are changing as well? How have you seen that working across the course of your career with lots of different clients?

FH: I find clients don’t actually really understand what the process involves, either in interiors, architecture or branding, and from branding its sort of like this unattainable value, because when you’re building an interior, you’ve actually got physical materials you’re buying that you can physically see but with branding its kind of this mystery. But I’m finding clients are becoming a bit more aware, a bit more savvy. Because of social media, you find people are being drawn to better ideas, more unique ideas, and then clients see that and then they see value in that because of the comments that are coming out. Back 15, 20 years ago, internet was scarce, so really it was just word of mouth and from people that would talk about a nice interior but branding was sort of left behind.

The dessert hotel’s getting recognition worldwide, and that draws attention to a project where 15 years ago it was more local.

M: What other interesting projects are examples of this branding approach to design?

FH: We did Mon Bijou actually before we did Adelphi, which was the function space. It was failing because originally it was just so narrow and not practical, and they went through five design changes and ideas before they engaged me, which was bizarre.>When I got there, the entire brand strategy that they had was just wrong. So we turned the whole thing into like a French jewel, art deco jewellery, and because its a function space, it generated good business particularly with weddings, and we knew that the wedding market was a good market to get into particularly in the city. This space was quite unique, it has great views, but people are going there I think simply because of the brand and design and the uniqueness of what they offer.

On more of a larger scale, the Ecoville project [in outer-west Melbourne suburb Tarneit]. There was this subdivision, this was probably five years ago. These subdivisions where they do housing estates are quite sad if you ask me, there’s no love – it’s just about cutting up parcels of land and selling it off. We got this client with 365 lots, who was really struggling to sell them, and again, we went through this whole branding strategy before we even touched the architecture. We just looked at it and we thought, ‘Why would you want to live there anyway?’ People down the road were selling properties that had better infrastructure.

So what we did is we actually convinced the owners to give up 12 parcels of land, which was really hard for them to do, for us to convert into a public park. It’s got a sustainable edge to it, and it’s a community park for the residents owned by the residents. By doing this it sort of generated interest. And we ended up underpinning it with architectural feature, which is a civic building, which has this beautiful steel work, a really unusual architectural piece for the western suburbs, usually they do really cheap and nasty stuff, so we actually went overboard, but by doing that it actually drew attention. They started selling blocks 40% more than the neighbors – a complete turnaround. Because when we went to the market with this project that had a community park, a civic building, an amphitheater – all these things that involved community ownership – their competitors weren't doing that. Again, we didn't touch the architecture before we knew what we were trying to market.

M: Thanks for sharing these stories with us, Fady.

FH: Thanks for that, I really appreciate it.


The Age


Originally designed for the Adelphi Hotels makeover in 2013 that resulted in their dessert bar Om Nom, the adorable sweet stool has other-worldly Alice in Wonderland feel about it.

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No, you can’t eat it. Yes, you can sit on it. Yes, you can pretend you’re buying it for the kids. No, it won’t disappear down a rabbit hole but instead add warmth, texture warmth and humour to a room. The stools padded seat is made from hard wearing Warwick fabrics and the base and legs from ebony wood veneer. Created by Hahem


Design Hotels

There’s a fine line between genius and precociousness, as was the case when a newly-graduated Fady Hachem convinced a Melbourne landlord that he could not only develop interior concepts and a bold brand identity, but also manage the entire $2m overhaul for a new bar.

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That site became neighborhood hotspot Bond, an unmitigated success for Hachem who went on to form the eponymous design and architectural studio.

It is exactly Hachems' reputation as a risk-taker and innovator which made him the perfect candidate for the rejuvenation of Melbourne’s iconic 34-room Adelphi Hotel. Thanks to Hachems' witty and whimsical vision, the Adelphi Hotel has been transformed into the world’s first ‘dessert hotel’, with chocolate-toned furnishings, cake patterned carpets, and “licorice allsorts” stools.


Essentials Magazine

I’m lucky enough to live around the corner from Siglo and I regularly enjoy spending an evening there catching up catching up with good friends. Once I take the stairs up to the intimate bar and step out to the terrace, I get the feeling that I’ve been transported to a secret location somewhere in Europe.

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The sophisticated atmosphere of the terrace setting provides views of leafy elm and plane trees to the historic Parliament House and extends to the grandeur of St. Patricks cathedral. Most know Siglo as a cigar retreat, and for good reason: they take their cigars seriously, which is why I love this place. While you might feel that you are in Europe, it is still quintessentially Melbourne. The substantial beverage list, refined selection of food including my favourite caviar and table service by well trained and knowledgeable staff are sure to satisfy the most discerning clientele.


Ask Magazine

Up to 2013, the Adelphi Hotel was in a free fall in terms of its business performance. Worrying that things were just about hit rock bottom, the new owners Dion Chandler, Ozzie Kheir and Simon Ongarato had decided that this stay needs a whole new look.

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"An innovative example of the 'boutique hotel', the Adelphi combined stark, contemporary design elements with sensational features (such as its famed ninth-floor swimming pool, overhanging the bustling street below). For many years the Adelphi thrived but, when sold by original owners Denton Corker Marshall at the end of the 90s, a drawn-out period of decline followed," said a press statement from Hachem. Tuning up a proper hotel is easier said than done, requiring an extensive brief based on market expectations and design implementation. Among them is good food, relaxing environment, and above all a stellar presentation of the hotel’s high standard services. Having an extensive portfolio of achievements, Hachem hit the ground running with its refined taste, redesigning the whole structure under tagline 'Engage your senses'. The hotel in whole was transformed into a visual dessert, a place where visitors and guests alike can pleasure themselves with all five senses. That it was!

"The result is a visual and experiential feast - sophisticated, detailed and rich with a touch of the whim and magic of a Willie Wonka wonderland," said a press statement from the company. Its centre piece is Om Nom, the decadent dessert-themed restaurant, but the references to exquisite treats, sensation and indulgence, are continual throughout the building: swinging lounges and feature armchairs, graphic carpeting, a dark and glassy ceiling that spans the lobby like shimmering melted chocolate. Eclectic furnishings present an array of texture, pattern, colour and shape yet the final effect is not ornate or saccharine. All feature pieces are balanced by neutral walls and bedding, by modernist simplicity, by softness, space and greenery."

And when they used to sing the Candy Man Can in the old Willie Wonka movie, they really meant it. With a relatively tight budget to work with, not to mention deadlines to follow, Hachem managed to spruce up this place to restore it to its original glory based on a whole new theme. Integrating the past and the present, this place has a bit of everything to offer, making the guests’ stay most ideal! First opening in 1992, Adelphi Hotel was an imaginative new hospitality concept which had caught the attention of many after its inception. Being a magnet for high-profile guests and celebrities from many places around the world it, Adelphi became the exemplary business model for boutique hotels of its time. Now with business doing better, Adelphi is thankful that they could not have found a more perfect match for their new design concept. Founded by Fady Hachem, the studio has grown to be a leader in innovation. Adding to his already impressive reputation among members of the media, some of Fady’s award-winning work has been featured on TV. Design to this studio is a collaborative effort which involves all members of the team. Together, they form a force stronger than Fantastic 4, complementing each other’s work in more ways than one.

Based in Melbourne, the firm’s reputation has been taking them everywhere both in and outside of the city as well as outside their home country, Australia. With an eye for style and a knack for innovative leadership, one could comfortable say that brand is the number one remedy that all hotel concepts need. It’s sweeter than sweet! Yes, the Candyman can!

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Vision Magazine

Facing a wave of traditional tract housing, Hachem Architects has created a flagship project to help anchor the new subdivision of Ecoville in the lightest way possible. Hoping to influence the wider development, the designers were ultimately restricted to this centrepiece project. It demonstrates the scope to see beyond the square – and standard box. Project principal, Fady Hachem has a reputation for testing convention. Despite his original vision being curtailed, the project offers plenty of ideas for engendering community. Surrounded by tight allotments and housing stock with small, quaint windows, Hachem heads in the other direction. His answer fuses landscape and structure into an imaginative whole with a gentle blur between inside and out. Entirely unexpected in its setting, Hachem hopes that many of the project’s principles will eventually inform new project housing.

He discusses his masterstrokes of light and shade with Peter Hyatt:

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What is the centre’s key appeal?

A sense of ownership is really, really important. People who bought blocks of land and houses had little ownership of anything else. The strategy here is to give the community ownership. Fundamentally, they own this centre. It has become a real sense of pride.

Did the developers have any apprehension about how your proposal would be accepted within a setting of brick veneers?

The developers had doubts not necessarily about the project, or whether the architecture would succeed. Their doubt concerned funding and the money associated with building something like this.

How well does it live up to its name as a flagship structure for Ecoville?

It delivers substance. That gives it leverage. The local Ecoville Committee is putting in new infrastructure. They’re planning a skateboard ramp. There’s a basketball court attached and dog exercise area. It will become a real focus.

What are some of its Green qualities?

It has a sustainable edge. There are wind turbines in the structure. Those generate power that feeds the park itself. There’s also water capture of 300,000 litres from the street that also feeds the park. Air-conditioning is provided through cooled underground tunnels and circulated throughout the centre on warm days.

How long did it take for the basic design to materialize?

I locked myself in a room, researched and came up with a strategy. I did my sketches over a two-week period.

Does the built project vary from the original sketches?

The project has been scaled back. I proposed a butterfly sanctuary. There were tree-houses and a number of other customized elements. The client and council had concern about liability, although I disagreed as measures can be taken to protect users, the project inevitably was curtailed to a more conventional use.

What were your key influences?

In terms of the park itself, I love CERES, a self-sustainable park in Melbourne’s inner-city Brunswick. It has a great community drive. It has an organic garden and is really well developed and well run by the community. I wanted some of that same quality of community ownership in the west. If we can provide the same foundations, then we’ve done our job. That was one of the fundamental inspirations for our park. We have a community organic garden there now.

What inspired that shape?

We considered various canopies and a number of other solutions that were ultimately quite heavy. I wanted a real openness and airiness. That geometric form within another geometric form of curved element within a rectangle created a real dynamic that is completely surrounded by glass. This helps to accentuate that lineal roof which basically floats in mid-air. It’s relatively column-free. That’s why we have frameless glass rising from the ground almost as if it’s coming straight out of the earth. And glass runs straight into the roof. The back walls drop short from the ceiling by about 600mm. About every 600mm glass is inset into the wall. When you view the glass it appears almost seamless. There’s no frame in the glass anywhere. Between the roof and the wall it’s frameless. Outside glass is embedded into the wall.

Could you have achieved that result with another material?

No. The only issue I had with glass was the movement of the roof. The tolerances were complicated because it’s a suspended roof without columns. Our glazing contractors basically fine-tuned as we went along. That was crucial because glass is embedded in the roof and just floats, so if it moves what does that mean for the glass? How do we protect that?

How do you avoid the risk of damage?

There’s a tolerance in the slab and the connecting joints of the screens. The engineer gave us tolerances of a few centimetres of movement in the worst conditions. The glass tracking within the walls is embedded in the cavity that is quite wide. The glazing does move slightly and there are no butt-joints. There’s a few millimetres gap between each glazing component held in silicone. Glass appears to be ‘floating’.

How important was it to really absorb that full sense of place into this design?

Absolutely. You see structure but it’s very connected to the landscape. The landscaping around the park works its way into the building. It really becomes one with the environment and the park itself. And the sight lines when you have parents inside, wanting to keep an eye on their children playing outside? If you stand in the middle of the building you can see right through. Also, the way we’ve positioned the barbecue areas and the playground they’re visible from most angles. You don’t have any “dark spots.”

Why Viridian glass?

I love the product. I’m very comfortable with it, as a well-known product that has been thoroughly tested. I didn’t want to compromise on materials. There were some key elements in there and when I thought glass, Viridian was the way to go. That was a given.

And the performance glass specifically?

Despite the roof overhangs it faces north and so it receives plenty of strong sunlight. Our choice of glass was about keeping high levels of transparency and to provide the necessary performance to handle the direct and reflected solar loads.

Any anxious moments during glass installation?

The roof was in first and it was a very nervous time for all involved. This meant the glazing needed pinpoint accuracy because all channelling was in the roof and already in the walls and so there was no margin for error. It was tricky, but working with the contractors was a positive experience. It was stressful but in the end, quite an achievement for everyone involved. I think overcoming those obstacles on such a difficult build is the project’s greatest merit. Value management sounds harmless enough.

Was that your experience of the design process?

That’s a sore point. So much of the industry is decided by project managers who hammer architects over the head about cost, cost, cost. The first thing I try is to fully engineer everything, so that it’s not necessarily the architecture under the microscope. Because most value managers really have no idea about architecture, they start slashing. We can get this glass for say, this little. We can save this much money by using cheaper glass. Once you design and build everything like that you’re in real trouble. Good materials, good glass and design should be seen as an investment. Luckily we had a good project manager in Trevor Main who managed to help steer the project towards a good outcome. You could have saved money by losing the skylight. Well you could, but a big part of the delight of that interior volume is the skylight. It’s a part of that offering that the residents don’t experience in their own houses. It’s really a huge window to the sky and an uplifting treatment. I definitely see it as part of the investment and delight every time you enter the centre.

There has to be a calculated risk with anything that’s worthwhile. And you have steered clear of the pedestrian, dull result. I’d prefer to be known as more of a risk-taker. I’d like people to see the value of the project because I tried to push the result architecturally as far as possible.

Isn’t it really about the informed risk?

You have to have intelligence when you approach a project like this. You have to have know-how and a certain experience. It’s calculated risk. It’s not a luck risk as some people say. You’ve chosen the right materials for the task. Concrete, steel and glass form a very specific vocabulary that conveys an intriguing design and construction story. A lot of this has to do with telling the story in the thinnest, simplest way possible. It’s about getting the steel back to its thinnest and seeing glass with that beautiful edge so that the building speaks in an uncomplicated, elegant way

Material durability is often overlooked isn’t it?

Longevity means sustainability. This project doesn’t feel like it’s going to die or that the materials will fray any time soon. They’re materials that will last and that’s part of its sustainability because low maintenance needs to be a long-term issue. We needed steel and glass. Those elements harmonize so well in this project.

What distinguishes good design and architecture from standard practice?

A lot of people take the path of least resistance. In a commercial sense that will make more money because it requires less time, but I don’t think that produces really good or enduring architecture. I’m not saying you have to break ground, but you need to produce something worth its place.

That’s a key isn’t it?

That’s true. Too many people are in and out of projects and move on to the next. You have to fight for what you believe in as a designer or architect. That’s the lesson here.


Night Fever

Situated atop the Adelphi Hotel, Mon Bijou – a cocktail bar and an upper-level function venue – sets out to dazzle with an intricate, deco-inspired interior that appears to be a continuation of the surrounding panorama of Melbourne's skyline: a glorious network of cathedral spires, rooftops and windowpanes.

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The brief for the venue, given to Hachem by The Collective Establishment, was to maximise the impact of the spectacular views and to create an atmosphere of rare decadence and charm.

The designers from Hachem positioned the venue's service areas (bar and bathrooms) discreetly, to allow for long, peripheral seating areas with a stunning proximity to the cityscape just beyond the windows.

The furnishings chosen are timeless, elegant and subtly toned, while over the walls and ceiling an elaborate series of reflective three dimensional geometric forms, inspired by French art-deco jewelry, seems to shimmer and glide. Multifaceted and variously aligned, they capture natural light and create a moiré effect as one moves through the space.

The intricacy and molecularity of the concept meant that the feature interior elements could be built, taken apart, carried in – without the use of expensive cranes – and reconfigured on site. This was important, given the financial and time constraints of the project.

Modelling techniques developed in planning were so precise that their actual installation took less than 3 weeks to complete. The result is an infinite play of jewel colours, shadows and intersecting shapes. Mon Bijou is a magical setting that makes an occasion of every visit.


Night Fever

The Ecoville Project is a civic development, which involved the integration of a residential estate. Ecoville is now an active site which engages its residents in community activities, and enables them to contribute to the sustenance and growth of their environment.

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The client, Resimax, directed Hachem to transform the site, which was essentially a large paddock (west of Melbourne) into inviting, usable parkland, and to create public areas for recreation and interaction.

As architects, Hachem wanted to work sensitively with the natural elements that the land offered, and develop concepts that would invigorate the area, and provide residents with a sense of belonging and responsibility.

Eco-sustainable practices needed to be integrated into the project from the start. This meant thinking small and local, and enacting simple, effective ideas.

Ecoville, today, comprises landscaped park and gardens, a sports arena, barbecue areas and playground equipment. At its centre is a restaurant and cafe nestled beneath a soaring pavilion. It acts as a community hub, encouraging outdoor activities and casual get-togethers all year round. Eco-sustainable practices were integrated into the project from the start, and this was also incorporated into the venue’s kitchen: meaning thinking small and local, and enacting simple, effective ideas. A beautiful, organic vegetable garden invites communal participation and promotes a healthy lifestyle. The wind turbine park is a source of clean energy for the neighborhood, as well as being a sculptural asset and a totem for the progressive nature of the project.

In addition, large underground water storage tanks collect rain and storm water, which subsequently irrigates the gardens and parklands and services the community’s toilets.


Night Fever

When it first opened in 1992, the Adelphi Hotel immediately captured the public imagination. An innovative example of a boutique hotel, it combined stark, contemporary design with sensational features, such as its famous ninth floor swimming pool overhanging the street below. However a period of decline followed its initial success, by 2013 the Adelphi had lost its status and its glamour. Enter the hotels new owners, Don Chandler, Ozzie Kheir, Simon Ongarato, determined to turn things around.

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Hachem was commissioned to undertake the project design and revitalize the brand. The designers came up with the concept based on the tagline, ‘engage your senses’ and the theme of desserts. "The idea was to create an environment and visual identity that stirs and delights each of the senses, and too initiate an irresistible talking point- the Adelphi now the world’s premier dessert hotel" explains principle Fady Hachem.

The result is a visual and experimental feast-sophisticated and richly detailed, with more than a touch of whimsy and magic of a Willy Wonka. The focal point is Om Nom, the decadently dessert themed restaurant, but the references to exquisite treats, sensations and indulgence occur throughout the building: sumptuous lounges feature plush armchairs and graphic carpeting, while and a dark and glossy ceiling spans the lobby like an expanse of melting chocolate. Eclectic furnishings present and array of texture, pattern colour and shape, yet the final outcome avoids becoming overly ornate or saccharine thanks to the counterbalancing effect of neutral walls and bedding of modernist simplicity, and expanses of space and greenery.


Elle Australia

Sugar, honey, sweetie… there a reason we called our lovers these pet names- and the Adelphi Hotel in Melbourne’s Flinders Lanes knows all about it. The desert menu of its restaurant Om Nom is virtual viagra, offerng a range of decaadnrt treats including the mango alfonso (below) as well as ‘liquid desserts" – cocktail versions of sweets such as lemon meringue pie – all made by pastry wizards trained under Michelin-Starred chef Alain Ducasse.

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If all that sugar doesn’t get your blood pumping, the sexy décor of the 34 rooms will: bold patterns, neon lighting (in a non-brothel way, we swear) and leather panelling reign supreme. Staff will even scrawl a welcome note on your mirrow, so why not surprise your lover by requesting a custome message. And when you’re ready for something really sweet, choose a fregrance for our bed from the pillow scent menu. We sugest licorice- it’s an aphrodisiac.


Interiors Korea

In the middle of the hotel a special dessert themed restaurant and hotel lounge are placed. Graphic carpet and pink and goldish acrylic mirrors reflect objects that disperses our gaze. Faintly shining lobby's ceiling seems melting chocolates and lighting is formed in the shape of cherries.

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Geometrical patterns, new textures, fancy colours and shapes are well mixed and the modern style of design gives us a superb experience. There are 34 rooms which are standard comfy, superior plush, deluxe Flinders, palatial suite and also Adelphi boardrooms that can accommodate about 10 people. Clients can experience not just coming away from the urban landscape but can also have the feeling of escape from the past at the Adelphi boardroom.

Launch Night for Bond

Steel Profile

Demonstrating that supermodel looks and sharp IQ really can go together, Melbourne’s Ecoville Community Centre achieves the rare double of inspired form and precise function.

By definition the best architecture reveals the impresario, rather than the bureaucrat. Hachem Principal, Fady Hachem is no stranger to proposing wild ideas and different approaches. He once tried to sell the idea of a strawberry farm to Melbourne’s Dockland’s Authority.

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Real architecture considered from that bird’s eye view – above the sprawling metropolis – is a rare sight indeed. Which is why its presence in Melbourne’s unlikely sounding Ecoville is such a beacon, enough to extract a double-take from even the most casual passer-by. Located in Tarneit a heartland of high-revving suburban growth thirty kilometres to Melbourne’s west, this community centre is intended as a kind of social glue for the state’s fastest-growing municipality. In an age where citizens rarely have the luxury of time or opportunity to enjoy true neighbourliness, such projects act as a rare catalyst.

Fady knows a great deal about the role of good design for "Community wellbeing and sense of neighbourhood". The project incorporates pavilion, barbeque and picnic areas, tennis courts, a large and sheltered amphitheatre, and a children’s playground. And while this might sound fairly pro forma, it is the way in which the architects have responded – not with quaint, common garden variety gestures – but an all-too-rare bravado that challenges visitors, yet also welcomes them.

Steel ribbons made from BlueScope RHS profile and BlueScope universal beam sections and plate create diaphanous, cloud-like structure. Echoing the wires of a piano, or strings of a harpsichord, the project’s roof casts a striated pattern across its amphitheatre floor in a way that is unfamiliar to typical new estates. Fadys’ design appears highly organic and fluid, and yet it’s all underwritten with honest rigour that’s apparent in the centre’s rhythmic steel sweep and flowing grid. The design is legible and clear, and even if such modernity isn’t to everyone’s taste he says that "At least it’s recognisable and you understand how it comes together and stands up".

The early reaction from council, Fady recalls, was a big ‘No’. "Their argument was that they couldn’t benchmark it against anything else. My response was: ‘Well, let this be the benchmark. Let this set a new benchmark and others will reference it.’ That seemed to strike a chord."

Mindful of avoiding the monumental,

With his project Fady has steered a course considerate of providing not only amenity for people but to stimulate their curiosity. "We asked the question: ‘How could it help the community?’ That was our starting point," Fady explains. "New estates tend to be isolating. There’s no instant community, little infrastructure and so these centres can really provide the necessary community hub.

"We took a chance. We could have met expectations with an entirely predictable result, but why bother?" he adds. The answer is self-evident and Fady smiles as he reviews a solution that arrives like a cool change on a day of unbearable heat. His answer – in a flat, sometimes hostile landscape with few mature trees – is oasis-like.

That Fady found traction for his idea in a market that is so resistant to variation is remarkable. Even then, enthusiasm from developer client Resimax wasn’t immediate, Fady recalls. "It was innovative and different but we had a client who finally saw the benefits of our proposal," he says. "It took 12 months to convince their MD Aziz Kheir," Fady says. "Then, he stood alone and really it wasn’t until much later that his leadership group came around and heaped praise on the achievement. Aziz believed in this great centrepiece. It’s to his credit because he had to work hard to convince his fellow directors to take a different approach."

Despite support for the community centre, the Hachem team was less successful at influencing design for any of the 300-plus new houses that form the wider estate. Fady recalls, his Director of Architecture Brendan Shannon was particularly disappointed, standard brick and tile are a disappointment. Thwarted but not defeated, Hachem concentrated on the project they knew could ground the development.

"They are mostly standard brick and tile and do not echo the community centres innovation." Shannon laments. "Too many community facilities in estates are low-grade structures," he argues. "We didn’t want to repeat any of those. Just because a lot of the new houses are fairly basic doesn’t mean you have to design down to that level."

While the canopy boasts a bold and dynamic form, it was a fundamentally simple structure, with the potential Achilles Heel being the assembly joints and connections. Fady believes that the potential for error with such fabrication and construction tends to make many building professionals uncomfortable.

"Our early conversation had to explain it in the simplest, clearest possible manner." Fady says. The builder has to understand the concept before they can build anything," he says, admitting that while this might sound all too obvious, it’s vital a builder is conversant in the critical differences between creating with brick and steelwork. "It’s a whole other language and skill-set," he adds.

Originally designed with a floating concrete roof, the architects finally settled on steel – a decision that Fady believes was "A much better choice". "It’s really gorgeous," he enthuses. "It’s really a raw structure that we love, and it’s in parkland which actually softens it off a little.

"Our initial design was less bulky, but the engineer’s first attempt resulted in a much bulkier appearance," he continues. "We kept negotiating with the engineer to see how slender and refined it could become. One of the biggest challenges was to reduce the size of the steel purlins and refine these to such a point that they seem hardly to exist."

Such fine profiling can realistically be achieved only with steel and Fady explains that pre-fabrication helped immensely, enabling parts to arrive on site to very tight tolerances, ready for assembly. Modelling of each and every part was managed in-house with Revit and 3D drawing. Rather than the ubiquitous shade cloth, the ribboned steel purlins require low-maintenance but offer far greater permanence.

"What we learned here was that the steel supplier and builder aren’t necessarily on the same page," he says. "The steel manufacturer was very in tune with the issues and we still discovered some of those issues a little late. We learned a lot about the steelwork details such as the cleat connections that must come from hand sketches rather than problem-solving everything on computer with CAD.

"The angles of each of those purlin ends and cleated connections meant there was almost no margin for error," he adds. "Because the design fans out in plan, a lot of refinement and care was required to make sure we retained that precise accuracy. Had we miscalculated, the effect would be obvious and the result terrible. Because a beautiful symmetry is achieved, it sings.

"The project’s striated shade quality is a definite feature and reason that functionality helped to sell the project. If you go in and argue the case purely on aesthetics you can end up in trouble. Here, we could convince the client of practical performance and function. I think the aesthetics have to explain themselves."

And then there is the light-filled quality of the building itself, which is all about material reduction. "Its light-filled component is the most impressive aspect," Fady asserts. "Although there are walls and roof, you look right through the building." This is exemplified in the bathroom, for instance, where walls are just over two metres high and then glass takes over to the floating roof.

Despite the project’s undeniable appeal, Fady says in an ideal world he would have pushed himself, his client and construction team even harder. "I wanted it even lighter and thinner and even more airy, as if it came from cloth," he says. "You have to accept that there are compromises and cost pressures, but overall I’m pretty satisfied with what we’ve achieved.

"My wife might privately be a fan of my work, but more often she is quite critical," he laughs. "But she describes the project as inspiring. I’d like to think there is an almost a spiritual feeling stepping into that space, as if visitors are released and opened to the elements."

Hachem and the Ecoville project proves that – even in the most unlikely of settings – design can have a colossal gravity beyond its modest size and weight.


Sweet Rebirth

What do you do with an iconic hotel that has lost its zing thanks to SUCCESSIVE financial troubles and a lack of love? You bring in the desserts.

Dessert-inspired art. Chocolate-toned furnishings. The smell of baking in the air. And carpet that looks suspiciously like a liquorice all-sort. Design guru Fady Hachem - and consequently, the owners of Melbourne’s Adelphi Hotel - have Fady’s wife Sharon to thank for turning a Melbourne institution into the world’s first dessert hotel.

After all, it was her talk of the delightful, decadent and indulgent experience of desserts that sent a light bulb running through the designer’s already-ticking brain.

“It’s charming and whimsical - but it’s not wild, not Willy Wonka,” says Fady of the result, who has worked on projects from Dubai to Manila and believes the Adelphi concept is perfect for Melbourne’s laneway culture.

At its heart is the Om Nom dessert restaurant and bar with French-trained patisserie chef Christy Angwidjaja at the helm, offering delights like the mango alfonso (mango and shisho profiteroles with kalamansi sorbet, and coconut lemongrass foam) or the basil garden (a concoction of vanilla, olive oil and honey ice cream, lime, basil and white chocolate cremeux, finished off with chocolate soil).

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“To my surprise, when presenting this to our client and potential chefs, the idea was met with little resistance. Everyone was really excited about the possibilities. I knew my design team was head over heels in love with this concept [and] desserts became our number one topic of conversation. The research became about experiencing different desserts for breakfast, lunch and tea. Calorie counting went out the window,” laughs Fady, whose team of 10 cover architecture, branding, multimedia and interior and industrial design.

Their new Adelphi is a stark contrast to that of days gone by - the 1938 warehouse constructed in the heart of the rag trade was converted to a boutique hotel in the early ‘90s with a spikey, minimalist approach and an infamous glass-bottomed swimming pool suspended eight stories above Flinders Lane.

In 2006, the hotel went into voluntary receivership and then again in 2013,this time forced, before a group of Melbourne hospitality heavyweights (Ozzie Kehir, Dion Chandler and Simon Ongarato) came to its rescue.

“The Adelphi was in receivership for a few months before my firm was engaged, which meant a frank conversation with the new owner about the viability of the hotel in the current market. “The idea I pitched was to reignite the existing brand with a new concept, but also to keep the past alive in some way. The hotel is an icon and being respectful to its history seemed an important part of the brief.”

It’s this approach Fady is renowned for- looking at design projects historically - from his very first project (Red Ash restaurant) while still juggling university, which transformed him from “being a complete beginner to suddenly having a reputation”, to working on the widely celebrated Bond Lounge Bar a few years later, which cemented Fady’s design stardom.

“The public response was overwhelming, and being featured in documentaries , TV, print and hardcover publications was a real buzz,” he says.

“I had a hard time explaining how I had completed the project with no interiors academic training, no experience, and no mentor. I guess the best explanation is that I relied on my gut feeling - my intuition.

“It was the most rewarding project for me because I proved to myself I could design, manage and build a project of a commercial scale in multiple disciplines, and succeed.” He was just 21 at the time.

The way Fady sees it, design is part of his make-up. With a Lebanese heritage, he says his parents are pragmatic people (‘hardworking and strong willed”) who taught him never to rely on anyone else for success.

With projects taking him across continents, Fady says as a designer you must be mindful of cultural differences (“the way you conduct yourself is as important as the design work, and you need to be educated about possible taboos and customs in order to establish good rapport with your international clients”), but at the core, design is universal.

“A successful result comes from understanding a brief and executing the strongest design solution. This is a universal process,” he says.

“A restaurant in Dubai might demand an extravagant setting, while an NYC bar project calls for a more subdued atmosphere, but I will go about the process in the same manner. The outcome will be completely different but the success of the design will be measured in pretty much the same terms.”

That Dubai restaurant he’s talking about is the Kitsune, which involved a myriad of “over-the-top idea, including a dry ice floor feature, various kinds of crazy custom furniture, and real, living Japanese plants set within the interior. Oh, also the clients flew in their own staff from Japan to staff the restaurant... who does that?” he laughs.

Back at the Adelphi and Fady believes the team has stuck to the brief: to transform the hotel into a marketable, saleable commodity, and not just by making the space inviting, but by creating a destination and a talking point.

“There is nothing quite like it. It simply epitomises the Melbourne laneway culture. It’s an unconventional idea providing patrons with a boutique experience, closely linked with art and design. It taps into the way that Melbournians like to experience things, and tourists love that.”

From one friend to another...fady’s advice for budding designers:

Firstly, you need a thick skin and a slightly deaf ear! The best advice I can give in business is to be flexible. Learn to adapt and improvise, but never to compromise on your vision, and never agree to the easy way out. Remember, clients are investing in you - your insight and your vision - not how fancy your programs are, or how quick you are. Always start from a high-level discussion (big ideas), get them excited, inspire them and the result will follow suit.


Inspired pool design

A memorable hotel pool immerses guests in good design, etching their ways onto renovation wish lists. In years past, whirlpools, plunge pools, even the swim-up bar have all been souvenired by enthusiastic party people for their own backyards. More recently, trendsetting hotel architects have pushed pools out of the comfort zone and onto vertigo-inducing rooftops (notably, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore) or cantilevered beyond building edges (think The Joule Hotel in Dallas).

The rooftop pool at Melbourne’s Adelphi, originally designed by Denton Corker Marshall, juts out two metres beyond the building’s walls, high over Flinders Lane. The pool deck is currently facing reinvention at the hands of Melbourne design firm Hachem. A new bar, barbecue area and chic new image are poised to reposition the pool as the place to be when it reopens this spring. As principal designer Fady Hachem puts it: “Pools have emerged as the new destination point – the more unique, the more memorable the experience.”

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Hachem says the combination of an expansive body of water and a city rooftop is a luxury proposal. And he doesn’t expect the sky-high swimming trend to die down any time soon. “Rooftop pools offer a rare opportunity to be outdoors on private property in heart of a city,” he says. “Fundamentally, they are a celebration of the cityscape and the sky.”

Jaw-dropping views often divide the sexiest hotel pools from the council-run variety. Take for instance, the untouched jungle enveloping the wet-edge pool at the award-winning Villa Sungai in Bali. Guests quickly lose themselves to the receding lush vines and the trickling river below. The only sign of outside human life is the meditative chanting resonating from beyond the hillside. Here the pool is not just a chance to cool off but also a resting place for the eye. Such views may be difficult to recreate at home, but owner and designer Pamela Hayes affirms tranquillity is all in the subtleties.

One such detail is the pool colour – “a real ‘celadon’ green that blends with the surrounding jungle”, Hayes says. This restful hue was achieved with a mix of honed green and grey Sukabumi natural stone tiles from Jawa Barat, Indonesia, to achieve a bright, clear and glistening aesthetic.

Lighting, Hayes says, will bring a pool into focus at night. “Internal lighting and candles along a wet edge will create the most magical effect.” She believes the best new pools link architecture with nature, while kidney-shaped pools are definitely on the out.


A sweet return for a landmark Adelphi hotel

Melbourne's Adelphi Hotel, with its glass-bottom swimming pool jutting out over Flinders Lane, has quietly re-opened after closing this year because of financial difficulties with the Australian Tax Office.

With new owners, the 34-room boutique property has had a makeover and been re-invented as the world's only "dessert-themed" hotel. The new-look five-star Adelphi started taking guests two weeks ago and its intimate 40-seat dessert restaurant and bar, Om Nom, opens for sweet tooths on Monday.

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The dessert theme starts in the new lobby with jars of lollies and bowls of sticky toffee apples on the reception counter. When guests get to their rooms there are more free sweets in the bar fridge, including home-made fairy floss and popcorn from the kitchen of French-trained Christie-Tanya Angwidjaja, who worked as a pastry chef at the Ritz in Paris. She has teamed up with internationally renowned pastry chef Pierrick Boyer, who is acting as a consultant.

Even the turn-down service delivers sweets, with home-made macaroons every night. The hotel's rich furnishings are dessert-themed, too, from carpets patterned like cakes to licorice all-sort stools. "The colours and textures of the hotel are all based off desserts," said designer Fady Hachem. "But it's not weird. It's not too out there. It's very comfortable and done subtly."

The new owner of the Adelphi is the Icon Hotels Group, comprising managing director Dion Chandler, Ozzie Kehir and Simon Ongarato. Mr Chandler was manager of the hotel for the previous owner, the Gabriel Hotels Group, for four years before it went into liquidation on February 1.

Apart from its debt problems, he said a two-year 22-storey building construction opposite the hotel had driven guests away. "There was construction noise from 7am to 7pm six days a week. That was the end of us."

The Adelphi Hotel was built in 1938 as a warehouse for the rag trade before being turned into an edgy hotel in 1993 by architects Denton Corker Marshall, whose radical minimalist industrial design attracted celebrity guests and global acclaim as one of the world's hippest hotels.

"But over the years it had become neglected," Mr Hachem said. "It was a shadow of its former self. We have retained some of the DCM elements but we made a decision to rebrand because there was also a 'failing' stigma with the hotel going into receivership twice."


People look for more than a communal gymnasium and pool

Located 35 kilometres west of Melbourne, Ecovile, in Tarniet, is one of many new housing developments to emerge on the suburban fringe. However, this development, consisting of 365 subdivisions, was slow to attract interest. “The developers were initially struggling to find buyers. The area offered few amenities, including poor access to public transport and shops,” says designer, Fady Hachem, Principal of Hachem Architecture.

Hachem (who also specialise in branding under their banner Hachem Australia) asked the question: What would make people want to live here? What should be a selling point? Hachem feels many housing estates simply offer token facilities to bring in buyers. “People look for more than a communal gymnasium and swimming pool,” he adds.

Working closely with Landarch, landscapes architects, the proposal put forward to the city of Wyndham was to ‘sacrifice’ 24 of the 365 housing allotments for an outdoor gym, open grassed areas, golfing nets and a tennis court. The scheme also included a separate and enclosed area for people to exercise their dogs. There is also a community organic garden and even an area set aside for wind turbines. Linking these areas is a running track. But the key to the design is a recently completed pavilion.

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Soaring to 13 metres in height, this concrete and steel pavilion has become a beacon for the area. “It’s now a landmark structure for the estate,” says Hachem. “And since it was built, the developers have sold most of the lots for housing.”

The pavilion features an in situ concrete structure, with steel members creating a series of arches over the concrete and glass building. Used for weddings, social functions and for school groups, this pavilion includes a range of amenities. And to ensure the open auditorium adjacent to the pavilion is used on a regular basis, a generous canopy hovers above. “The roof eliminates 50% of direct light, particularly at midday when the light can be harsh,” says Hachem. To ensure minimal energy usage, a generous skylight was included in the pavilion. “You really don’t need to put on lights during the day,” he adds.

Ecoville, as the name suggests, is promoted as a green estate. As well as wind turbines, there are 300,000 litre tanks for water storage. “The success has been seeing the estate as more than simply housing,” declares Hachem. “People need a reason to want to want to live here. There had to be a point of difference.” .


Jewel-Inspired Melbourne bar sits above Flinders Lane, looking over the city.

Melbourne is renowned for gritty, dumpster-strewn laneways which lead the wanderer towards seeming dead ends before being drawn into secreted doorways and down into the city’s charismatic, underground nightlife. This is very much the case with Mon Bijou, a glittering little bar which is set-quite unexpectedly-atop the Adelphi Hotel in the CBD’s Flinders Lane precinct.

Nothing less than an architectural icon, the Denton Corker Marshall-designed Adelphi is renowned for being the city’s first ‘proper’ boutique hotel. Located even higher above its famous jutting lap pool is the jewel-like Mon Bijou, designed as a very exclusive and boutique experience for the VIP clientele who frequent Melbourne bar Baroq House.

Fady Hachem, principle at Hachem, worked closely with the owners to create a memorable experience that would capitalise on a tight project budget and impossibly high site to its distinct advantage.

“It’s a very unique space in the CBD,” says Hachem of the double-layer bar on floors 10 and 11, where views of the city’s sandstone building and cathedral spires stretch around three sides of the glass-walled site.

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“The site deserved something really special,” he says. “I always thought it was like a little jewel,” The intimacy of the space, juxtaposed by the breathtaking views prompted Hachem to explore the glittering geometry of Art Deco jewels; these were translated into a series of three dimensional forms which were applied to the walls in reflective layers of mirror and slatted two-pack finish. The ceilings, too, are layered with a swarm of glimmering geometric shapes, which work to capture the site’s natural light and give off a moiré effect as one moves through the space.

Tackling Mon Bijou’s tight budget allowance required extensive design refinement and smart planning. Keeping material cost to a minimum, Hachem says: “Things that are high and untouchable are plastic, while things set low which can be touched are genuine glass and mirror”. Also taking into account the weight of the structure, Hachem eliminated the need for extra structural beams by using lightweight material such as MDF and two-pack finishes.

Time and accessibility were major challenges, with the bar being accessible only by lift and an interminable amount of stairs, “The key thing for us was joinery and how we perfected that,” says Hachem. “We couldn’t get anything up the stairs and there was no budget for craning, so the biggest issue was sizing. Everything had to be constructed modularly, but we didn’t want it to appear modular. We wanted a seamless effect.”


Stay, Eat, Play

A loft in New York’s Soho is called to mind on entering Melbourne’s Adelphi Hotel (from $280 per night; adelphi.com.au). Each of the 34 rooms has had a makeover courtesy of local interior designer Fady Hachem, who has turned to bold patterns and sumptuous textures. For a sugar fix, don’t miss the dessert bar, Om Nom, downstairs.


Launch night for the Adelphi

Open day for Ecoville

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Brunswick East, Victoria
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