This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Curvy, Unexpected Renovation For A Heritage Home

Architecture

Based on the pristine 1904 facade of this home, you might think it’s easy to imagine what lies inside… but this is a property full of surprises.

The Mason house in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs offers something unexpected at every turn, from a two-storey extension with bold, curved forms, to a rooftop terrace. (How many period homes can claim that?)

Sarah Bryant, director of Bryant Alsop Architects, talks us through the design process. 

6th February, 2020

The beautiful period facade. Photo – Jack Lovel.

The existing house was restored and a contemporary two-storey extension added to the rear. Photo – Jack Lovel.

The ornate plasterwork of the 1904 house was restored. Photo – Jack Lovel.

Elegant features in the Mason house by Bryant Alsop Architects. Photo – Jack Lovel.

Sarah Bryant, director of Bryant Alsop Architects, calls Mason a ‘bold, heroic design’ that ‘avoids opulence.’ Photo – Jack Lovel.

Mason is ultimately a quiet and restful house. Photo – Jack Lovel.

A restrained material palette was chosen for this area as not to compete with the period features of the original rooms. Access to the rooftop terrace is via the ribbon staircase. Photo – Jack Lovel.

Outdoor space remained important for the owners. Photo – Jack Lovel.

The extension explores geometric forms to pull light deep into the house. Photo – Jack Lovel.

Amelia Barnes
Thursday 6th February 2020

‘We believe that by contrasting the old with the new, each is made stronger.’ – Sarah Bryant

Purchasing a period home with no heritage overlay offers plenty of possibilities – from demolition (please don’t) to total restoration. The owners of this 1904 house in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs opted for somewhere in the middle, forming what Sarah Bryant, director of Bryant Alsop Architects, calls a ‘bold, heroic design’ that ‘avoids opulence.’

This property holds sentimental value for the client, who visited the house as a child and wanted to respect its origins. Minimising the structural impact was therefore important, so the existing house was restored and a contemporary two-storey extension added to the rear.

Changes made to the original rooms of the house were minimal, other than restoring ornate plasterwork and removing features from a 1980s renovation. The existing floorplan remains in place, except for the front two rooms made into a main bedroom and en suite. 

The extension on the other hand explores geometric forms to pull light deep into the house. Bryant Alsop’s design features a clear delineation between old and new, but with new spaces in proportion to those existing. ‘We believe that by contrasting the old with the new, each is made stronger,’ says Sarah. ‘We drew upon the formality and vertical language of Victorian buildings to inform a dialogue between existing and contemporary forms where the scale of new spaces are proportionate with the original house.’ A restrained material palette was chosen for this area so as not to compete with the period features of the original rooms, or the rhythm and repetition of the new curved forms. 

In order to preserve valuable outdoor space, the extension was designated to one side of the block next to a lawn, and a roof terrace was created above the living room. Enclosing this outdoor deck is a cantilevered steel arbour for plants that will eventually shroud the space with greenery. ‘It’s a secret, and surprising space that is unexpected with fabulous views back to the city,’ says Sarah. Access to this space is via a central ribbon staircase, which brings a playful and sculptural quality to the more formal Victorian house.

Mason is ultimately a quiet and restful house, where elegant heritage features meet contemporary family life.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

An Architect’s Self-Designed Butterfly Home!

The family home of Pleysier Perkins director, Simon Perkins. We've said it before, we'll say it again – architects always have the best h...

Interiors

A Nearly Demolished Home Turned Interior Masterpiece!

Junctions90 have redesigned this 1850s Melbourne house so it will never be demolished.

Architecture

Old Meets New, Meets Tree!

The Jac Home by Panov Scott Architects is designed in the space between a Jacaranda Tree, and a Federation Cottage.
Miriam McGarry

This Week

On The Market

This Grand 1860s Terrace In Melbourne’s Inner North Is Up For Grabs!

An original Victorian gem with all the modern updates in one of Melbourne's most coveted inner-city locations has hit the market - and it wo...
Sasha Gattermayr

Studio Visit

The Construction Specialist Turned Conceptual Sculptor!

Brisbane-based sculptor Hailey Atkins' takes her background in industrial roofing and applies it to her abstract art practice.
Sasha Gattermayr

News

An Amazing Design Auction To Help Support Bushfire Recovery

Limited-edition ceramics or a weekend on Bruny Island are just some of the incredible items available in this online fundraising auction by

Homes

A Pascoe Vale South Home With Palm Springs Flair

The delightful family home of Jake Cassar and Naomi Jankowski in Pascoe Vale South, Melbourne counts Palm Springs and David Hockey as design...

News

An Epic Online Program Of Future Design Stars From RMIT

Celebrate the graduating students of RMIT’s class of 2020 with an epic program of virtual end-of-year showcases across art, architectu...
Sponsored

Shopping

Radiant New Table Linen From Bonnie + Neil, Just In Time For Summer Entertaining!

Elevate your summer dining table with ‘Clover’, the new summer collection from beloved Melbourne design duo, Bonnie and Neil.
Sasha Gattermayr

Design Eye

Lauren Li on Contemporary Curves

Square, blocky shapes are out, and CURVY furniture is in - Interior designer Lauren Li gives us the lowdown.
01:59

Art en Route

Art en Route : A Visit to Mitchelton Estate + Gallery Of Aboriginal Art, With Ford Puma

A day trip featuring iconic Australian Architecture and Indigenous Art, in the stylish new Ford Puma!

Architecture

A Coastal Family Home Without Any Coastal Cliches!

A contemporary home for furniture designers - meet Coastal Pavilion by Mim Design, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Studio Visit

A Studio Visit With One Of Australia’s Most Exciting Young Architecture + Design Firms

Jesse Bennett and Anne-Marie Campagnolo have been married for 10 years, and together, they have created some of the most impressive architec...

Studio Visit

Designing Vibrant + Joyous Clothes With A Cross-Continental Perspective

Dinzi Amobi unites the London of her upbringing with the Nigeria of her heritage through her fashion + homewares label - Ulo Australia.
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

From Unliveable To Unbelievable!

BayleyWard have brought this Elsternwick Edwardian back to life, and added a swoon-worthy double-height contemporary extension!

Architecture

A Childhood Home Revived For The Next Generation

A single-storey home in Toorak is transformed into a contemporary family retreat by Melanie Beynon Architecture + Design!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

All Of Your Favourite Makers In One Decadent Showcase!

Craft Victoria hosts an end-of-year exhibition for the crème de la crème of the state’s artisanal creatives.

News

A Limited Edition Trio Of Vessels From Mud Inspired By Margaret Preston

Mud has collaborated with the National Gallery of Australia on a limited edition collection of vessels that pay homage to the iconic Austral...

Similar Stories

Architecture

An Architect’s Self-Designed Butterfly Home!

We've said it before, we'll say it again – architects always have the best houses!

Interiors

A Nearly Demolished Home Turned Interior Masterpiece!

Junctions90 have redesigned this 1850s Melbourne house so it will never be demolished.

Architecture

Old Meets New, Meets Tree!

The Jac Home by Panov Scott Architects is designed in the space between a Jacaranda Tree, and a Federation Cottage.
Miriam McGarry

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.