Sustainable Homes

A Home With Italian WOW Factor, In Carlton North

It isn’t often that an architect describes their latest project using the words ‘wine, orecchiette, torn bread, muscatels and cheese wheels’ – we’re into it! The Il Duomo house by Wowowa captures the best of Italy, and translates that inimitable European character to this Carlton North cottage.

A cathedral inspiration on a tiny Melbourne block – this project is infused with trademark Wowowa colour, humour and joy. Bellissimo!

Miriam McGarry
Supports The Design Files

Il Duomo by Wowowa. Photo – Martina Gemmola. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

A terrarium courtyard, inspired by cathedral geometry. Photo – Martina Gemmola. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Pink and green carnival colours. Photo – Martina Gemmola. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

This tight site is a 4 meter wide space. Photo – Martina Gemmola. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

A space that is both joyful and functional. Photo – Martina Gemmola. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

A mint green bathroom. Photo – Martina Gemmola. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Colours that sing of ‘Italianity.’ Photo – Martina Gemmola. Styling – Ruth Welsby.

Miriam McGarry
12th of July 2019

When Monique Woodward of Wowowa encountered this Carlton North property, she and her team were met with a DIY post-war renovation on a Victorian Workers Cottage, that had left the home with a ‘very highly vaulted ceiling.’ The property was affectionately bestowed with the nickname ‘Il Duomo’ as a result… and this illusion of Italian heritage helped to inform the Wowowa renovation.

Monique explains that this architectural taste of Italy was a flavour that the client was ‘keen to embellish.’ However, rather than attempting a full Italian feast – the architects have playfully infused the home with subtle nods to the Mediterranean. Despite the constraints of a tight 4m wide urban site, monumental octagon cathedral ceilings were a key reference point. The architects rotated the geometry to create a terrarium courtyard, with a nod to the Medicis!

Inside, the relatively small space is both joyful and functional, where ‘every centimetre of this house is accounted for, and bursting with amenity.’ The pink and green façade of the Florentine Il Duomo informed the colour palette, with ‘punchy Terrazzo’ that connects the interior and exterior spaces. Pops of maroon interrupt the green kitchen and bench seat, but Monique explains that ‘the mint green in the bathroom is where the colour combination really sings of Italianality.’

The punch and pizzazz of this property is important to Monique, who sees architecture as key to the expression of culture and experiences. She explains ‘too often playfulness in architecture is seen as over the top, but humans are hard wired to seek happiness – our spaces shouldn’t be designed any differently.’

In addition to creating joy for their clients, this project is also friendly to the environment. Through reducing materials and waste, using insulated double brick, and maximising cross ventilation, this tiny home has achieved a six star energy rating. A perfect example of how sustainable design doesn’t mean compromising on aesthetics, or creative flourish. This joyful home certainly sparkles with Italian passion!

This house is shortlisted in the Residential Architecture category of the TDF Design Awards – to see the rest of the shortlist, go here!

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