A Playful + Reorienting Renovation

A house designed by Austin Maynard Architects always has a little experimental flair, and a sense of playfulness, stretching expectations of how architecture can inspire full and joyful lives!

The Grant House in North Fitzroy, Melbourne, is no exception. This bold and contemporary renovation re-orients the home to a laneway entrance, and introduces a hidden cellar, central garden and secret rooftop room – no adults allowed!

Lucy Feagins

A re-orientating renovation at the Grant House by Austin Maynard Architects. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

One corrugated sheet bent over, to make a simple extruded form. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A new courtyard introduced light to the home. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A narrow terrace feels open and bright after the renovation. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Stair detailing. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A bright, playful home. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Plenty of space for games! Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A lush courtyard space. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A new circulation brights freshness to the narrow corridors. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Austin Maynard Architects and their distinctive use of netting! Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Sharp window angles in the master bedroom. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Bedroom details. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Pops of colour in the bathroom. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Sleek lines! Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Folded corrugated iron follows the form of the roof. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A new laneway entrance. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

An imposing entrance. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Lucy Feagins
25th of March 2019

Austin Maynard Architects were brought on board by the owners of a narrow single-storey terrace in North Fitzroy, Melbourne, to bring light into the property and reconfigure an unsuccessful layout. The original home had previously been updated with an extension in the 1980s that created windowless zones and gloomy corridor spaces. The architects were faced with a challenge: ‘How do you adapt the old layout to modern living? How do you get light and air into the home? How can you make all of this work within the spatial constraints of a terrace house on a long thin block?’

The solution was to consider the functionality of the space, and create new circulation by reorienting the whole home. The ‘front door’ is now unsuspectingly accessed from the laneway side of the home. This redirection avoids the traditional corridor model on a linear site, as the main entrance now opens up to the bright living area of the property. The imposing galvanised steel door also performs as a subtle security feature. The architects highlight that behind the door ‘lies a generous and calming garden – an embracing welcome home, and the contrast between the two is stark and joyful.’

The renovation maximises the potential of the site, while actually reducing the floor plan. Stripping the 1980s extension has resulted in more light, garden space, and easier access. A courtyard separates the pre-existing home from the new addition – and it is in this introduced area where the fun really starts!

The clients expressed a desire for a basement, but the architects offered a slightly more creative option – a secret cellar! Hidden in the floor, under a sliding island bench lives a secret 2 x 4 metre vault. This inventive streak continues in the teenage bedroom, where a suspended platform bed and lounging net have been introduced. Above the bed, ‘a hatch leads up to a secret ply-lined roof space, a whole secret room his parents will likely never visit!’ This is no standard renovation!

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