There’s no shortage of renovated and extended period homes in Melbourne, but none of them are quite like Ruckers Hill House by Studio Bright.
When the practice was first engaged on this project, they were faced with a declining Edwardian house, with a previously added lean-to containing no natural light or relationship to the garden. Even the original part of the house featured poorly executed ‘improvements’ at every turn, calling for significant restoration.
Studio Bright set out to complete an exhaustive restoration of the original home located on a prominent corner site, and add a two-storey contemporary rear pavilion.
Aluminium window frames were removed, window frame proportions corrected, doors and architraves replaced, and fireplaces reinstated. The original section of the property is now predominately made up of bedrooms, where distinct colour palettes (‘Richmond Tigers yellow’ among them) create a heightened sense of personal belonging.
Linking the old house to the new addition is a bridge-like element, with a pool and garden on either side. Marking this connection point between old and new is a stained glass window designed by artist Nadine Keegan. This window was commissioned by the client to inscribe the histories of the site, and recognise the Traditional Owners of the land, depicting yam daisies once grown in the area by the Wurundjeri people.
It has become a signature of architect Mel Bright’s work to feature a reimagined take on the typical backyard pool, reconfigured for tight urban spaces. In this case, the pool has been sequestered in a room-like space akin to a Roman bath, thereby eliminating the usual pool fence requirements. The pool also activates the upturned arches on the house’s linkway, creating a space for children to sit and play. ‘It’s wonderful to see that a space can be not only beautiful and still, but also totally animated and lots of fun,’ Mel says.
The new part of the house has been pushed to the back of the site and western boundary, creating a second street-facing facade for the corner block. Mel describes this expression as ‘akin to a discrete garden pavilion: contemporary and street-tough, but a little bit Edwardian in spirit.’ The lower floor contains a living space and kitchen, while the upper-storey houses rooms including a library, lounge, guest room and study. ‘The spaces are small but connected. We have never really liked large expansive living spaces, preferring smaller spaces that provide a sense of comfort and home,’ Mel says.
The rhythm and texture of the exterior of this home pick up on the surrounding buildings, featuring patterns and details drawn from adjacent fences and homes, and even neighbouring backyard sheds!
See more Studio Bright projects here.