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A Curious City Home, Nestled In Park Land

Architecture

‘Park Life’ is a house located in the Champion Road Estate Heritage Precinct – a former housing commission estate in Melbourne’s Williamstown North, reportedly built during World War II to accommodate returned soldiers. The estate was created using the principles of the ‘garden city’, integrating home, garden and streetscape. For this reason, most houses in the area are set back from the street, with 15 metre wide nature strips, contributing their generous front gardens to the streetscape. Dreamy!

Architecture Architecture were responsible for continuing this commendable vision for the precinct, in this renovation project. Their response introduces a studio and a gently curving new extension – sometimes stealing, sometimes surrendering outdoor space – resulting in a clever, contemporary home, with a unique legacy. 

23rd April, 2020

Park Life by Architecture Architecture is a renovation to a 1940s house in Williamstown North. Photo – Tom Ross

Shadows at play on the courtyard walls. Photo – Tom Ross

Greenery indoors and out creates a soothing atmosphere. Photo – Tom Ross

The kidney-shaped new extension expands only where needed as not to overtake the courtyard. Photo – Tom Ross

Subtle tones and natural patinas in the hardwood timber, pale green bricks, porcelain, and burnished concrete reinforce this is a house nestled in its parkland. Photo – Tom Ross

The uses of curves continues into the joinery. Photo – Tom Ross

The open kitchen. Photo – Tom Ross

The kitchen now enjoys a courtyard outlook. Photo – Tom Ross

A quiet spot to reflect. Photo – Tom Ross

The material palette conjures memories of ‘green canopies, wooded trunks and protective grottoes,’ says architect Michael Roper. Photo – Tom Ross

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. Photo – Tom Ross

The diagonal axis where the old house meets new is described as a ‘flash of generosity in a house of otherwise modest spaces,’ tying the study, gallery and dining areas together. Photo – Tom Ross

A new artist studio at the property forefront facilitates a private courtyard before the house. Photo – Tom Ross

The curved, timber battened artist’s studio creates a buffer between the streetscape and courtyard. Photo – Tom Ross

The design is in keeping with original vision of the now heritage area, which features 15 metre wide nature strips. Photo – Tom Ross

Amelia Barnes
Thursday 23rd April 2020

‘The walls and the floors are solid and substantial; everything else is light.’ – Michael Roper

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.’

 

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