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When Two Homes Become One

Architecture

The word ‘unique’ is regularly bandied about in the art and design worlds, but in the case of Austin Maynard Architects’ projects, this term always applies.

In their latest project, RaeRae House in North Fitzroy, the practice have turned two classic single-fronted Victorian terraces into a cohesive five-bedroom house with an innovative mountain-like roof. While unconventional in appearance, this is a highly functional and practical house, with exciting moments of discovery throughout.

20th March, 2020

The unique roofline of RaeRae by Austin Maynard Architects. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

This projects saw two single-fronted Victorian terraces become one. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The extension activates the laneway behind the house. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The L-shaped extension wraps around a central garden. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

A family with three children live in this North Fitzroy home. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The living portion of the new extension. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The house has both an indoor and outdoor fireplace. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

There’s always plenty of playful elements in an Austin Maynard project! Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Clean, contemporary living room interiors. Photo – Stephanie Rooney.

A wonderful display shelf subtly divides the living domain. Photo – Stephanie Rooney.

The kitchen bench hovers above the floor with cables and wires hidden underneath. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The kitchen contains a hidden pantry, appliance storage shelves and food preparation area. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The two-storey kids-zone has three bedrooms,  a rumpus room, and  bathroom accessed via a spiral staircase. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The colour-filled rumpus. Photo – Stephanie Rooney.

The rumpus and craft rooms hide a multitude of secrets: pin-boards, blackboards, sliding doors, recharging zones, cubby holes and toy storage. Photo – Stephanie Rooney.

The perforated steel landing connects the bedrooms and bridges a double height void. Photo – Stephanie Rooney.

A beautifully appointed bathroom. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The bright coloured carpet in the bedrooms was chosen by each child! Photo – Stephanie Rooney.

The rumpus room opens out to the garden and is future-proofed to become self-contained with its own direct street access Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The sunny garden gets minimal shadow, ideal for Melbourne’s climate. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

The outdoor entertaining area. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

RaeRae house is Austin Maynard Architects’ attempt at creating a rational house filled with secrets and discovery. Photo – Peter Bennetts.

Amelia Barnes
Friday 20th March 2020

‘Initially it looks to be a fanciful design – an architectural mountain range – but at its core the house is responsive and strategic.’ – Mark Austin

Highly functional and rational homes run the risk of looking a little banal, but not when Austin Maynard Architects are involved. In their ‘RaeRae House’, the practice set out to challenge this perception, creating a practical home that remains full of creative flourishes, and unexpected details. 

The clients initially planned to renovate and extend their single-fronted Fitzroy North terrace, but when the house next door came up for sale, they decided to purchase it and combine the two. This second house was incredibly rundown and needed demolishing, but because of a heritage overlay, the street frontage was retained. 

Austin Maynard Architects created a glazed walkway between the heritage buildings, to unite the two houses and serve as the front door. Rather than simply extending both buildings backwards in a linear form, the addition was devised along the southern boundary with separate zones for living, parents, and the three children. ‘Living spaces face the sunny northern garden, while storage and services are to the south. Reorienting the home along the southern boundary maximises passive solar gain and ensures a sunny garden with minimal shadow, ideal for Melbourne’s climate,’ says Austin Maynard Architects director, Andrew Maynard.

The most distinct element of this project is the new zig zag roof that rises at seemingly random intervals. This roof form is in fact highly contextual, with every rise and fall carefully considered to minimise overshadowing and visual bulk. This roofline is most visible from the rear laneway, where the house deliberately engages with the street via direct access, large openings and windows.

The roofline and varied facades give the impression of this project being many individual buildings, but it’s actually the one cohesive space. Both the existing terrace houses have been transformed, with one now a self-contained guest suite with a separate entrance, and the other a home office and garden shed. 

While this house initially appears almost whimsical with its mountain-scape profile, director of Austin Maynard Architects, Mark Austin, explains that ‘logic, reason and rationality’ are the cornerstones of its design. He says, ‘Initially it looks to be a fanciful design – an architectural mountain range – but at its core the house is responsive and strategic.’

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