Meet ‘Ruby’ (as this dreamy Mid-Century home on Ruby Street is affectionately known). Designed by architect C.C. Sainsbury and built in 1957, this year the family home received the most elegant of updates from Melbourne’s Foomann Architects.
‘Our research into war-services homes, which this is one of, revealed a mix of options typically more conservative than Ruby,’ tells co-director Jo Foong. ‘This design is modernist and exuberant; which is both a reflection of the first owner and our current clients,’ chimes in co-director Jamie Sormann.
The home now comprises a new building of two different heights, though both complement the angle of the existing roof. Robust Corten, with its ‘rusted’ finish, has been utilised to tie the addition in with the rich timber and brick of the original exterior. Inside, the home’s new varying volumes make for dynamic spaces, especially where ceilings join and triangular windows draw in light.
Architects Jo and Jamie spent time hanging out with clients Amanda and Ben Clark of Clark Art to help gain an understanding of their tastes and personalities – which energised the entire process. ‘They had no preconceived solutions and challenged us to be bold and surprising in our design approach,’ recalls Jamie.
For the clients, this renovation was centred on gaining space (bedrooms for their two kids), a new kitchen, laundry and more storage, as well as better showcasing their beautiful art collection and extensive library of books.
The resultant stair and associated joinery solutions have achieved those aims to spectacular effect. ‘This insertion solves a lot of the brief; it displays small sculpture and books while concealing storage and a laundry. It’s a complicated 3D puzzle and the proudest we’ve ever been of a laundry!’ details architect Jo.
Foomann called on frequent collaborators Fido Projects as builders. Their greatest challenge was intertwined with the project’s major highlight – accommodating all the quirks of this distinctive 1950’s house! ‘It’s nice to work with a building that was designed in a modernist spirit; however, the raked forms and deep eaves were a challenging foundation for a first-floor extension,’ says Jamie. ‘Our approach took time to evolve,’ adds Jo, ‘We are pleased with the overall composition created by our new forms, and the dynamic internal spaces they provide’.