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A Triumphant West Brunswick Extension

Architecture

For Melbourne architect Peter Knights of Taylor Knights, good design comes down to being perceptive to what and who is around us. ‘Basically, looking and listening’ he explains.

It’s this humble philosophy that guided the studio’s recently completed West Brunswick house, an inspired 55 square metre alteration and addition to a Californian bungalow.

 

1st February, 2018

West Brunswick home by Taylor Knights architects. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

A peek into the living space, featuring THAT Ligne Roset sofa. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

‘Both the clients and ourselves were keen to explore how simple (and often serious!) materials such as concrete and brick could also take on an element of playfulness,’ says architect Peter Knights of Taylor Knights. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

One of the initial floorplan sketches. Courtesy of Taylor Knights.

Architects James Taylor and Peter Knights of Taylor Knights referenced one of their client’s favourite artworks, Kandinsky’s ‘Upward’, to establish the colour palette of the home. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Creating a space that would accommodate their diverse collection of artwork and literature was an essential part of the client’s brief. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

The living room frames views out to the garden. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Early stages exterior sketch, showing the relationship between original home and extension. Image courtesy of Taylor Knights.

The client’s favourite Kandinsky artwork, which inspired shapes and colours of the extension, sits next to the door. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Sage green concrete floor, flecked with dark local bluestone. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Taylor Knights curated view lines across the space, and created nooks and reveals within the open plan addition. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Bold shapes and geometry in the living space. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

PINK CARPET! Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Sharp lines in the bathroom, softened by greenery. Photo – Tom Blachford. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Lucy Feagins
Thursday 1st February 2018

‘An early sketch of this project was captioned ‘business up front, party out the back’!’ – James Taylor and Peter Knights.

‘An early sketch of this project was captioned ‘business up front, party out the back’ explains Peter Knights of Taylor Knights architects – ‘we feel this accurately sums up the energy of our client, and our playful approach.’

In fact, it’s not just playfulness that describes Taylor Knights’ design process here, but also, a distinct lack of ego. This modest, though transformative renovation is testament to the architects’ thoughtful, pragmatic approach.

After 10 years of living in the original house, and learning all the things they loved (as well as those they were happy to leave behind), the owners approached Taylor Knight architects in 2015.

The brief was straightforward enough – the client was keen to reconfigure the back section of the original house, which, like so many homes of this era, was a rabbit-warren of compartmentalised rooms, with very little connection to the garden beyond.

Creating a bigger, brighter home that would also accommodate the clients’ extensive collection of artwork and books was also an essential part of the brief – a family favourite being a treasured print of Kandinsky’s ‘Upward’ (Empor) (1929). In fact, this print became a key inspiration for the architects’ design response, guiding the interior colour and materials palette.

Architects James Taylor and Peter Knights opted for robust materials that would stand up to the rigours of family life – white brick walls and timber panelling were paired with and a unique green-tinted concrete floor, flecked with local bluestone.

Structurally, the design team were keen to keep things simple. ‘From the beginning, the project was always about achieving quality over quantity’ Peter concludes. For this reason, the architects sought to avoid as many major structural changes as possible, designing a compact new living pavilion to extend the existing home, and gently re-orientating the home by creating a new entry point at the side of the house, linking old and new.

Retaining much of the home’s existing structure also contains the scale here, and lends a special charm to the place. The architects are particularly fond of the low ceilings – not usually a sought after feature (!), but in this instance so effective at creating a cosy and intimate space, and framing beautiful views of the garden.

Taylor Knights would like to acknowledge and thank their builder, Gareth Cannon of GC+F Construction, who did a fantastic job!

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