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A Majestic Heritage Home In South Yarra Gets A Masterful Update

Architecture

Even with heritage protection, significant period homes can easily become rundown and drab over time, requiring major works to restore them to their former glory.

In the case of this 1880s South Yarra home for example, early demolition works revealed the need for significant restorations and rebuilding, despite initially appearing in pretty good nick!

Robson Rak Architects were tasked with reinstating the original home in line with heritage restrictions, while adding a contemporary extension suitable for a family of five.

12th May, 2020

Robson Rak designed a contemporary extension for this circa 1882 Victorian Italianate house. Photo – Shannon McGrath

A key element of this project was introducing a new open-plan living, kitchen and dining domain to serve as the heart of the home. Photo – Shannon McGrath

The stunning new pool. Photo – Shannon McGrath

Glass doors pivot open to connect indoors and out. Photo – Shannon McGrath

Perfectly integrated firewood storage. Photo – Shannon McGrath

The kitchen includes comfortable banquette seating cleverly integrated into the joinery. Photo – Shannon McGrath

‘We always saw the fireplace being a central part to success of this home, with all spaces pivoting around it,’ says architect Kathryn Robson of the extension. Photo – Shannon McGrath

Photo – Shannon McGrath

Landscape design by Mud Office. Photo – Shannon McGrath

The brief was to design a functional family home for five with both communal and individual spaces. Photo – Shannon McGrath

‘Heritage was supportive of our proposal as it clearly distinguishes the old and new fabric of the building.  We did not intend to create a replica Victorian, and our proposal received support due to this,’ says Kathryn. Photo – Shannon McGrath

Photo – Shannon McGrath

Grand proportions in the restored front rooms. Photo – Shannon McGrath

‘We were entrusted to design their forever home that should be classical, contemporary, and timeless,’ says Kathryn. Photo – Shannon McGrath

A restored open fireplace. Photo – Shannon McGrath

A generous and glamorous new bathroom. Photo – Shannon McGrath

‘We wanted to restore and respect the original Victorian spaces, but re-purpose them to ensure they became useful, functional spaces in the home,’ says Kathryn. Photo – Shannon McGrath

The incredible, restored Victorian Italianate facade.  Photo – Shannon McGrath

The entrance into the now completed home. Photo – Shannon McGrath

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 12th May 2020

‘They could see the value of their investment in the health of the building, and consequently the health and wellbeing of their family.’ – Kathryn Robson

Robson Rak were recently engaged to renovate ‘Batavia’ – one of South Yarra’s few remaining double-storey, Victorian Italianate houses. Despite the property being heritage protected and initially appearing to be in good condition, early demolition works uncovered myriad structural issues, calling for significant restorations.

The brief was to restore the original house, reconfigure the layout, and add an extension to suit a modern family of five. ‘We were entrusted to design their forever home that should be classical, contemporary, and timeless,’ says Kathryn Robson, director of Robson Rak Architects. The architects proposed a building borrowing the proportions of the older style, reinterpreted for the 21st century.

A key element of this project was introducing a new open-plan living, kitchen and dining domain to serve as the heart of the home. This space was envisioned as a light-filled area with a garden on all sides, anchored by a central fireplace. ‘We always saw the fireplace being a central part to the success of this home, with all spaces pivoting around it,’ says Kathryn.

A combination of formal and casual elements make this home as liveable as it is visually majestic. Among practical details cleverly integrated into the design is the comfortable banquette seating in the kitchen joinery (‘The perfect spot for someone to sit with a glass of wine while someone else cooks up a storm’ says Kathryn), and designated cupboards for children’s craft materials. ‘It’s a very sociable, versatile kitchen where everything occurs.’

The now completed home cleverly stitches together two distinct architectural eras, creating the most impressive iteration of this circa 1882 home yet!

View more spectacular Robson Rak projects here and keep up with their latest work via their Instagram

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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