A Masterful Revival Of A Gold Rush-Era House

Usually when we speak about preserving heritage architecture, we’re talking the modernist design movement that began roughly in the late 1940s. Today, the century we’re referring to is the 1800s!

Originally built in 1861 during the Gold Rush era, this heritage house in Fitzroy has been impeccably retained and elevated to contemporary splendour by Rob Kennon architects.

Lucy Feagins

The new living space in this heritage Fitzroy home by Rob Kennon architects.  Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Looking into the new living space from the garden. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The client required a home that would be able to adapt to the young family’s needs. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Folding glass doors allows the entire rear of the house to be opened up. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

‘This project required a sustained commitment and dialogue between all contributors,’ the architects said. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Photo – Derek Swalwell.

European Oak has been used to reference the aged Baltic Pine found in the front room and on the staircase. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Seamless integration between old and new. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A ‘picture frame’ cut out in the bluestone wall links the kitchen and dining spaces. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Incredible hand-chiselled bluestone boulders, original from the home’s Gold Era origins. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A contemporary corner. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Several skylight incisions have flooded the home with natural light. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The kitchen, wrapped by original bluestone walls. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A contemporary upstairs bedroom. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Cement sheet-clad walls have been etched to mimic rectangular stones! Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A playful upstairs room. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The façade of the 150-year-old Fitzroy home. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Lucy Feagins
10th of July 2018

Much care has been taken by Rob Kennon architects to pay respect to the heritage significance of this Fitzroy home. Operating within the existing bones, Rob Kennon and his team navigated the renovation around original features. With thick, internal bluestone walls as the compass centre, a new bathroom, living area and kitchen have been introduced. Upstairs, two side-by-side elongated bedrooms feed off a secondary study/play space, and are connected by a shared light shaft.

No detail was spared in the new proposal. References to the original hall, stairwell and landing walls are made via cement sheet-clad walls, lending an unexpected surface texture which mimics natural stone. European Oak has been used across storage and cabinetry, in a nod to the aged Baltic Pine flooring found in the front room and on the staircase. Meanwhile, the entire rear of the home can now be completely opened up to a tiny, lush backyard, via sleek folding glass doors. 

‘The kitchen is enveloped in history,’ explain the architects in reference to the magnificent original, hand-chiselled bluestone boulders and archway that so aptly summarise the original era (you can almost hear the horse and carriage roll down Gertrude Street). A new ‘picture frame’ opening in this robust stone wall connects past and present (…and the kitchen to the living area) through the introduction of light and activity.

To so seamlessly integrate the old with new on a heritage site, requires extreme sensitivity from everyone involved. ‘This project required a sustained commitment and dialogue between all contributors,’ the architects said, who were in this case ‘a dedicated and passionate hands-on client; an open-minded, wise and patient local builder; adaptable local tradespeople; and architects who understood the value of well-defined and regular communication the ensure the concept was realised all the to the end’.

Here’s to another 150 years in Fitzroy!

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