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A Home Purpose Built For A Woman And Her Cat!

Architecture

The renovation to this heritage cottage in North Fitzroy by Atlas Architects had one unusual requirement: it must be designed with equal consideration of both their human client, and her cat, Dot. And so it was done!

The resulting structure is harmonious gathering of opposites: concrete and timber, rounded and rectilinear angles, human and cat lifestyles! All in pursuit of the common goal of homeliness.

21st May, 2020

The open living and dining space is the main spectacular event of the renovation. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

The cathedral ceiling allows light to flood in from the north-facing courtyard. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

The peaked awning gestures to the Victorian cottage’s original roofline. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

The view in from the garden. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

Dot’s porthole! Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

The living room bookshelves were designed as a ladder for dot to scamper up and around. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

The different heights and platforms are designed for Dot’s folly! Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

The kitchen was refurbished with new joinery. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

The cabinetry wraps around the kitchen and into the living room study. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

The hanging steel shelf continues the framing motif throughout the house! Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

A light-filled corridor. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

Hallway frame shelves. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

Grey finishes in the bathroom bow into the interplay of light and dark throughout the house! Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

The master bedroom. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

The classic Victorian cottage facade was structurally reinforced but retained. Photo – Tess Kelly. Styling – Devina Natasha Loekito.

Sasha Gattermayr
Thursday 21st May 2020

‘Our vision was to create a home where functionality is a thread woven with comfort, light, history and homely joy.’ – Ton Vu, Director of Atlas Architects.

How do you respond to a renovation brief that requires specific considerations for human and animal liveability? Atlas Architects have achieved it seamlessly and if you ask them, it turns out it’s all about flow.

‘Our vision was to create a home where functionality is a thread woven with comfort, light, history and homely joy,’ explains Director of Atlas Architects, Ton Vu. ‘Spatial and functional requirements for the client’s cat, Dot, related to playing, eating, access and litter were an important part of the design brief.’

Dot required access from the front yard to the back, and between the laundry and living space for days when she is left alone – hence cat doors were inserted discretely throughout corners of the house. The laundry room is dedicated entirely to Dot’s comfort and folly. Custom joinery designed specifically to accommodate her litter tray, food and storage is elevated off the laundry floor, while the north-facing bookshelves in the living room act as a ladder she can scamper up and keep watch on the garden through the rounded porthole.

Aside from Dot’s design specifications(!), the existing building was riddled with structural problems that impeded on spatial choreography. ‘The old house was a combination of a two-room heritage brick building with asbestos-clad lean-to structure,’ Ton explains. ‘The existing brick building was only supported by a shallow bluestone footing and had significant cracks throughout the internal and external walls.’

Though Ton was committed to designing new additions in harmony with the pre-existing elements, a near-entire demolition of the back of the house was required. The shape of the existing roofline informs the rear facade, the ceiling line and the rear awning, while the existing brickwork and plaster textures were left exposed along the corridor as a gesture towards the peeling layers of the house’s history. Cast in the triangular silhouette of the cottage’s original peaked facade, the rear awning references the same visual dialogue between the old and new dwelling. The final structure is a delicate balance of contrasts between materials, colours and angles.

In addition to the new extension, the original Victorian home was also restored extensively as part of this renovation. The architects worked with Resicon Master Builders to reinforce the bluestone footing in the original part of the house with concrete underpins, future proofing it for years to come. With this careful renovation and restoration project, Atlas Architects have breathed new life into this much loved little home, ensuring it will stand the test of time – in both human and cat years!

See more projects by Atlas Architects here.

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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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net