Les Clarke, the last of ClarkeHopkinsClarke’s three founding partners, has retired in his 56th year with the practice, leaving a design partnership that exemplifies the strength and diversity of his legacy. An Order of Australia member, Les has made a significant contribution to the Victorian built environment and community which has been widely recognised and awarded throughout his career.
Les Clarke alongside David Hopkins and Jack Clarke, founded Melbourne based architecture practice ClarkeHopkinsClarke.
With an early focus on residential and education projects, Les also designed several acclaimed homes, including the Housing Institute of Australia’s House of the Year in 1978. Today the practice’s work spans the education, multi-residential, retail, commercial, mixed-use, community, health care and aged care sectors.
Les Clarke’s work has had a substantial impact on Victoria’s educational landscape. He founded Eltham College in 1973, which became the first major independent, secular school in Australia. ClarkeHopkinsClarke has continued as the only architect to work with the college.
The practice has won multiple awards for their work at the Eltham College campus, including the 1976 Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) award for the school’s Eltham College Community Association centre, which initiated the idea of a community sports centre within a school. The campus design also received the Award for Excellence in Campus Planning from the AIA in 1977, and more recently the Prep and Multipurpose Building, was recognised as the Joint Winner of the New Construction / New Individual Facility category at the 2011 CEFPI Victorian Chapter Awards.
Les Clarke was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia medal in 1992, in recognition of his service to the community through the design of schools that incorporate community facilities. He was also involved in developing the Victorian school design guidelines, and is a Life Fellow of the AIA.
While ClarkeHopkinsClarke is nearing 56 years of practice, its work and philosophy have evolved in line with the rapidly changing architectural landscape in Melbourne over this significant period.
ClarkeHopkinsClarke’s mission to provide environments that support the evolution of place and the creation of vibrant communities underpins this growth. The practice takes this responsibility seriously and strives to respond to the needs of local communities and the existing urban context.
Recent growth across key sectors has seen the firm expand to encompass over 100 team members. This growth represents a new chapter for ClarkeHopkinsClarke which continues to be guided by Les Clarke’s legacy, together with the renewed energy and passion of the ClarkeHopkinsClarke design partnership which welcomes associates Jordan Curran and Simon LeNepveu as new partners.
Below are some of the key projects Les Clarke was responsible for over his career.
Above & below: Pillaroo residence in Montmorency, Les Clarke’s 1978 HIA House of the Year award winning design. Inside, the ceiling in the hall that leads from the den to the dining room houses a back-lit acrylic on glass and wrought-iron installation by one of Monsalvat’s founding artists, the late Matcham Skipper. By the front door, there is an exquisite carving in the trunk of a lemon-scented gum by Eltham chainsaw artist Leigh Conkie. Photo credit: Mike St Clair-Miller
The Eccacentre at Eltham College was the first example of a community recreation facility integrated with a school. Note the Matcham Skipper sculpture in the foreground. This philosophy of community integration permeates the practice’s work through to the present day with the recently completed, Officer Education Hub a contemporary example of a school with integrated community facilities. Photo credit: Keith Sandford
The Eccacentre at Eltham College. Photo credit: Keith Sandford
Officer Education Hub. Photo credit: Rhiannon Slatter
The recently completed Coburg North Village VIC. (Photo credit: Rachael Dere)
Early Safeway Store, Vermont South VIC. Les Clarke was responsible for designing the first Safeway stores in Victoria during the 1980s. The practice’s association with Safeway and later, Coles has evolved into the firm's current large scale masterplanning work throughout Melbourne. (Photo credit: ClarkeHopkinsClarke)
The 160 Ha St Germain Village urban development project.
Render credit: ClarkeHopkinsClarke