For Annabelle Berryman and Sarah Henry, directors of architecture firm studiofour, the renovation of a small Victorian Terrace house in Prahran presented a few textbook challenges. ‘It was full of dark, compartmentalised spaces and had very limited access to fresh air,’ Annabelle recalls.
The clients had initially approached studiofour to add an upper floor with two additional bedrooms, and a bathroom for their young family. However, Annabelle, Sarah and their team saw greater potential! Completely redeveloping the ground floor, studiofour were able to double the size of the living, kitchen and dining areas, as well as adding a central courtyard to access to light, and circulate natural airflow throughout the home.
Designed within the existing building’s framework, this ‘new home’ is a complete departure from its pokey, dark origins. Light now pours through the house, and large glass doors that slide behind a downstairs central joinery/fireplace unit have allowed the heart of the home to be connected to the new landscaped courtyard area that is both private and secure. The addition of a functional book wall ‘enabled a framed entrance into the new kitchen and dining space’, whilst another sliding glass wall connects a generous new outdoor area, and offers access to a previously unusable rear courtyard.
So often it can be tempting to demolish and build from scratch. Despite this itch to eliminate and reemerge like a phoenix from the ashes, Annabelle advises that for many homes with existing heritage and character, this approach often does not offer the best value. In this instance, the studio have shown what is possible when an even-handed renovation is designed to complement and enhance an existing structure.