The scattered and irregular gables of this Federation house, while absent from the contemporary extension, are suggestive of the casual arrangement of courtyards that now enliven the dwelling within. Much like these gables, variation in the scale and orientation of the new outdoor spaces lend a playful dynamism to the renovated house.
From the moment of entry, views shift and redirect between the courtyards, light-wells, decks and gardens. Natural light washes the internal space from all directions, encouraging exploration of the various living areas and retreats.
While loosely open-plan, each room is anchored and defined by its unique outlook. The courtyards extend the interior spaces, encouraging time spent outdoors as well as providing excellent solar access and passive ventilation. The ever-shifting light and views create a subtle labyrinthine quality, fluidly expanding the sense of spaciousness throughout the house.
A simple, robust material palate of sustainably sourced timbers, stone and recycled brick weaves its way throughout, visually connecting the indoor and outdoor areas. Much like the house opens and closes to its surrounds, materials are revealed and concealed, betraying the structural and spatial logic of the renovations.
At key moments, the white-washed walls are left unpainted to reveal their red-brick origins; timber rafters are exposed and then concealed again, marking the transition between living areas; timber screens temper light and shade, then stop short, opening up to sky and garden.
Some backyards are like unchartered galaxies, stretching into realms of verdant uncertainty. Beyond the fringes of domesticity, abandoned toys and home maintenance projects lay strewn among the wild grass like the vestiges of a forgotten voyage.
Our mission, as assigned, was to bring measure to the immeasurable and tame a dimensionless beast. From within the shadowy confines of a charming Californian Bungalow, we sent a probe, dark and slender, out into the wilds; a portal into new territories. What we discovered, is new life.
Like fungal blooms, white and pink, sun-drenched living spaces burst from the portal’s shaft, carving the immense backyard into manageable courtyards and play-yards, containing the previously uncontainable and tying these realms back to the certainty of home. Within, unadorned materials of earth and timber belie their lofty ambitions, remaining simple and grounded.
And yet, beyond the home and its extensions, a remnant of uncertainty still exists: the somewhat truncated, yet largely unmonitored backyard, where childhood terrors and fantasies continue to play-out.
This project is an extension to a Victorian-era house in Abbotsford, Melbourne. The brief called for new open-plan living areas, a new kitchen, bathroom and study nook. Against the odds, this modest extension has turned a dark, cramped residence with little backyard to spare, into a light-filled house with fantastic indoor and outdoor entertaining areas.
The existing house was south-facing, casting itself into shadow, with unsightly neighbouring buildings imposing on all sides. By creating a U-shaped extension along the property boundaries, Architecture Architecture has turned everything around. Now the house enjoys a generous private courtyard, with sunlight throughout the year.
From the outside, the steep, raked roof deftly negotiates planning regulations, allowing for generous ceilings and high-level clerestory louvres. In stark contrast with these windows, an unapologetic blank brick wall hovers over the courtyard, boldly declaring a distinction between the two sides of the living areas within. One side, more intimate, opens up to the courtyard, the other, with views to the passing clouds, admits northern sunlight in the wintertime.
Along both sides of the courtyard, a pair of long bench seats soften the threshold between indoors and out. One serves the living areas, the other serves the courtyard. At the back of each bench, bi-fold windows draw back, allowing the house to throw itself open to the outdoors or to close-off – adapting as required.
The material palette further assists in relaxing the otherwise clear geometries of this house. Exposed recycled brick (an echo of Abbotsford’s industrial heritage) and white timber boards (a staple of the modest residential extension), subtly breach the delineation of indoors and outdoors, weaving the two together.
The optimised solar orientation along with the use of brick walls and a dark concrete slab for thermal mass ensure that this is a high-comfort, low-energy house all year round, ideal for entertaining. A true turnaround.
Recipient of a commendations at the 2013 Australian Institute of Architecture awards and the 2013 ArchiTeam Awards.
Architecture Architecture have completed a fit-out of one of the Cairo Studio Apartments – an exercise in creating a fully functional abode within a mere 24m2.
Set within lush green communal gardens, the art deco Cairo Apartments are a landmark in Melbourne’s architectural heritage. Designed by Best Overend and completed in 1936, they were (and remain) an exercise in minimal living.
In a studio apartment of such modest dimension, the smallest modifications make a significant difference to the feel and functionality of the space.
Compact robes and clever storage solutions are integrated with a fold-out bed and a handsome full-height curtain, creating the flexibility to quickly convert the single-room space from a study to a bedroom to a dining room to a party space to a media room.
A door has also been moved and a kitchen servery window has been opened-up, reactivating the forgotten entry area, maintaining a strong visual connection from the kitchen to the garden, improving natural light and ventilation and creating greater flexibility in the layout of the apartment.
Embracing the philosophy of making more with less, Architecture Architecture have created a simple space with maximum flexibility to address contemporary living needs within a minimum floor area.
In an era when people are increasingly opting to live in cities and our urban fringes are forever expanding outwards, Architecture Architecture understand the imperative to make more with less, opting for high quality flexible space rather than inflexible specialised spaces – quality over quantity.
Visited by the 2015 Australian Institute of Architects Awards Jury.
This project extends, and thereby distorts, the Californian bungalow. While it may speak the same language, it does so with unfamiliar inflections.
So what’s changed? The roof remains the same simple A-frame it has always been, the side walls are exactly where we found them, and the floor, predictably, is still under foot. Only this same roof, these walls and that floor have all been stretched towards the backyard. Now stretched, new living areas have opened-up in the spaces between them: a kitchen, a dining room, a study and an outdoor deck.
The transition from Californian bungalow to contemporary addition is most apparent when comparing the front and rear facades – the latter, a contemporary distortion of the former. The original A-frame has been sliced at an angle to optimise orientation; the façade folded-in, affording shelter over the entry doors; the timber gable dropped over the windows like an eyelid, providing shade and shelter to the living spaces within.
Taking cue from the front façade, each of these gestures is captured in a charcoal outline: the square line of the deck’s plinth; the cranked line of the walls’ base; the diagonal line of the fascia above.
Internally, a diagonal axis connects the new with the old in a single sweep. Curved walls gently pinch the axis at its centre, while light fittings and a skylight punctuate the ends. This is the first in a series of elongated, diagonal relationships which enhance the impression of spaciousness, both within the house and out into the backyard.
Flanking this internal axis, incomplete walls slip between the rooms, acting to both define and to connect the primary and the secondary spaces. In this way, the kitchen and the study are like spatial eddies to the main living areas; connected, but to one side.
At the end of the axis, the ceiling lifts, exploiting the full height of the A-frame roof and revealing a beautifully crafted plywood vault. Here, the extension is angled towards the north-east, turning from the punishing western sun and creating a longer, diagonal view out into the garden. Timber battens drop-down over the glass to provide shading and custom-designed steel framed windows pivot open, making the window seat a perfect place to sit and enjoy the outlook.
Connecting the indoor and outdoor spaces, simple chain-wire netting – a nod to humble suburban fences and cricket-nets – will provide excellent seasonal shade once the grape vines have matured, softening the exact geometries of this Extension House.
The Stanhill is a landmark post-war apartment building designed by the celebrated modernist Frederick Romberg. The apartments are characterised by open, cellular planning with abundant natural light entering from two or three sides of each dwelling. The brief for Architecture Architecture was to design an entirely new fitout on a very lean budget and with a minimalist aesthetic.
Beyond providing comfortable amenity for the new tenants, the design introduces a single black band that runs throughout the apartment. Comprised of joinery, door frames, kitchen thresholds and skirting boards, its purpose is to draw attention to the masterfully fluid spatial planning as designed by the original architect.
At key moments in the design, the otherwise mute black and white aesthetic breaks in a flourish of barely perceptible colour, imbuing the apartment with a sense of quiet mystery.
‘Hey There House’ renovates and ruptures an existing weatherboard extension to the rear of a Victorian workers’ cottage. Glimpsed from the street, the house now raises a dark eyebrow in acknowledgement of the lush green lawn taking seed in the laneway below.
The glazed rear façade, skewed towards the lane, along with the roof, cracked open to let light in, connect new open-plan living areas with both the backyard to the west and the disused laneway to the north. In this way, the house now acts as a pivot between the public and private realms, extending the backyard and connecting it back into the local neighbourhood.
Reinforcing this connection, a retractable side-fence has been proposed, allowing the backyard to spill-out into the lane. It has also been proposed that the windows onto the laneway be replaced with doors, throwing the house open to this communal space.
From an environmental performance perspective, the significantly improved natural lighting, along with optimised solar orientation, high-level clerestory louvres for passive ventilation, and a concrete slab for thermal mass, ensure that this is a high-comfort, low-energy house all year round.
This house renovation stretches diagonally across the junction of its L-shaped backyard, unifying the two arms of the garden with a single gesture. Fin-walls project from the new living spaces, creating pockets of shade and shelter at the thresholds of outdoor living.
Internally, the geometry of the external canopy is drawn inside, bleeding the boundary between indoor and outdoor areas. This gesture also affords the opportunity to ‘flip’ open the rooftop, inviting shards of morning light into the living areas. Through the course of the day, sunlight penetrates the house from multiple angles, subtly marking the passage of time.
In the backyard a garage/studio building emulates the angular gesture of its sibling, though tips its hat in deference. Beneath its generous brim, a private garden provides a place of reflection for the studio space within.
Due for completion: 2015
Hip & Gable
Beyond the functional requirements of new bedrooms and open-plan living areas, this extension opens up the existing Californian Bungalow, reintroducing natural light to the darker corners of the house and reorienting living areas towards the northern sun and a generous backyard.
Sensitive heritage requirements demanded a considered approach to material selection and composition. In response, our design references key elements of the Californian Bungalow, reinterpreting them in a contemporary manner.
New pitched roofs continue the logic of the existing house, yet are strategically modified in response to the needs of function and sunlight, resulting in a subtle reinterpretation of the original roof. Similarly, key elements such as the modest gable and fascia ornamentation find new interpretation in the extension.
Moving through the house, sunlight reflects about every corner, drawing visitors down the terraced steps of the living spaces and into the heart of the house where garden views and an enormous eucalyptus tree eventually reveal themselves.
Due for completion: 2015
By ‘lively’ we mean diverse, unpredictable and vital. This is where we work – down the lively end of Brunswick Street. You’ll find us beavering away behind the tall glass windows of a beautifully restored 1870’s shopfront, floating in a sea of sketches, among stacks of books and material samples.
The interior palette is light and simple, with modest flourishes of detail where bookshelves terminate and cupboard doors open. 4m high windows look out onto the eucalypts of Atherton Gardens and flood the space with abundant natural light. A minor jungle of indoor plants ensures the air is ever sweet and doors at each end of the space provide a cooling breeze for those balmy summer days.
In short, this is a workplace that continues to remind us that well-designed spaces make a difference. Pop in and say hello sometime. Or if you’d like, take a seat and peruse our collection of architecture and design books. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to engage an architect. I’m sure we could find someone to help you out.