The team at Architecture Architecture were tasked with an unusual challenge when designing the renovation of a 1940s house in Williamstown North. Located on a corner lot with its ‘backyard’ facing the same direction as the front door, the clients were seeking added space and more privacy, without disrupting the existing streetscape. The project is located in the Champion Road Estate Heritage Precinct – an area with generous nature strips, designed on the premise of integrating home, garden and streetscape.
In response, Architecture Architecture designed a curved, timber battened artist’s studio at the property forefront, creating a buffer between the streetscape and the home’s private internal courtyard. ‘We set everything back, lending some of the garden to the street,’ explains Architecture Architecture director, Michael Roper.
Beyond the studio is the new kitchen and living extension, which adopts a kidney-shaped form to gently invite guests in. ‘Using angled walls, we played with the figure-ground relationship of the house to the site, expanding space where we needed it and pinching it where we didn’t,’ Michael says. ‘Each of the living areas is like a corner of the garden, loosely defined by tapering walls and pinched thresholds, expanding to accommodate a home’s modest comforts.’ Connecting the old and new areas of the homes is a modest gallery wall where the occupants of the house – an artist and curator – showcase their passions.
While the original house remained in good condition, the rooms were small and cut-off from the outdoors. ‘We entirely restructured these spaces with just a couple of relatively minor internal modifications,’ says Michael.
The park land theme of the project continues into the interiors, where the material palette conjures memories of ‘green canopies, wooded trunks and protective grottoes,’ as Michael describes. Subtle tones and natural patinas in the hardwood timber, pale green bricks, porcelain, and burnished concrete reinforce the home’s connection to local parkland. As Michael says, ‘The walls and the floors are solid and substantial; everything else is light.’