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.’