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A 'Modernist Ruin' In Malvern

Architecture

The German word ruinenlust (loosely translated to ‘Ruin Lust’) describes the human condition of being attracted to the crumbling collapse of what was once grand. The glory of yesteryear, intertwined with nostalgia, and sense of decay.

This intersection of the past and the present is explored in Figureground Architecture’s Malvern House. Here, the architects have created what they describe as a ‘modernist ruin’, that will age beautifully, and become slowly enwrapped in ivy and shrouded in verdant green. We chat with director Matt Rawlins about stepping outside of time, with a renovation that simultaneously harks back and gazes forwards.

 

17th December, 2018

The Malvern House by Figureground Architecture. Outdoor chairs and table by Tait. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Beck Simon.

Artwork by Arthur Ted Powell. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Beck Simon.

Dining chairs from Meizai. Sculpture by Den Holm. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Beck Simon.

Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Beck Simon.

Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Beck Simon.

Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Beck Simon.

Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Beck Simon.

Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Beck Simon.

Artwork by Judith Wright from Sophie Gannon Gallery. Side table by Douglas and Bec. Floor rug from Halcyon Lake. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Beck Simon.

Artwork by Judith Wright from Sophie Gannon Gallery. Floor lamp and side table by Douglas and Bec. Floor rug from Halcyon Lake. Table lamp and table from District. Cushions from Meizai. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Beck Simon.

Miriam McGarry
Monday 17th December 2018

When Matt Rawlins of Figureground Architecture first visited the Malvern House, he was met with a grand heritage frontage…and an 80s-inspired shambles at the rear of the property. After considering the potentials of the site, he offered a proposal that sat outside of the scope of the initial brief. His approach was to consider the north facing garden and external spaces as an extension of the home.

Matt’s bold new concept for the property involved reconfiguring the exterior space into three seperate gardens: ‘a passive central green courtyard, a raised deck for socialising, and a smaller courtyard to the south.’ Inside, new living and dining rooms are separated by a ‘kitchen pod’, with each space connecting directly to the garden. Matt explains ‘the dining room is framed by the green wall of the southern courtyard, whilst the deep revealed living room windows control light levels and create a moodier setting.’

The mood of this property is of stepping outside of ‘now’ into a past-that-never-occurred and a future that is yet unfolding. Matt describes how the garden and renovations are intended to read as a ‘modernist ruin.’ The masonry structure, with cement render, and lush vines enveloping the built elements offer a new riff on Ricardo Bofill’s 1973 Cement Factory project. This iconic surrealist industrial renovation was a reference point for Matt as an example of ‘architecture as a ruin in a landscape.’ Closer to home, Matt highlighted the work of Vokes and Peters, and Owen Architecture as masters of viewing home and garden as one cohesive ‘design task.’

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