Sustainable Homes

A Gloriously Verdant Inner-City Extension

When architects and clients arrive at the same precise vision for a new home, you can almost certainly see the cohesion in the end result.

A Melbourne couple achieved this dream team status with BKK Architects, who they engaged to complete an innovative contemporary addition to their Edwardian cottage in North Fitzroy. The results are understated, yet spectacular – complete with a jaw-dropping garden by Mud Office!

Sasha Gattermayr

The long rectangular block is split to allow an extensive garden to sit alongside the modernist-inspired extension. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The clients are a pair of self-declared introverts who wanted a space they could retreat to alone, with their books and nature. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Th expertly crafted materials meet at carefully choreographed points. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Te material palette lends a warm and inviting ambience to the interiors. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A classic Edwardian arch marks the transition between the original cottage dwelling and the contemporary extension. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The extensive custom cabinetry is VERY impressive. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The extension contains a kitchen, dining and living zone. The master bedroom is tucked behind the curved brick wall. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The in-built window seat is another feat of custom joinery! Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Exposed hardwood beams buttress the pitched ceilings. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Opposite the glazing, built-in joinery runs the length of the extension to house the client’s book and ceramics collection. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A combination of louvred panes, til-up windows and French doors have been installed along the entire north-facing wall of the extension. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The master bedroom utilises floor to ceiling glazing for maximum connection to the outdoors. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

THAT master ensuite! Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Bathroom details. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The white brick feature wall continues inside to delineate the communal living zone from the private sleeping quarters of the master suite. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Charred timber cladding and chalk-coloured stone surround the communal patio. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A masterfully landscaped native Australian garden by Mud Office is the central feature of the house. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Sasha Gattermayr
9th of July 2020

The Garden House by BKK Architects was designed to give two self-declared introverts a space to retreat alone with their collection of books, surrounded by nature.

Charged with the task of upgrading an existing Edwardian cottage and adding a modern extension, BKK set out to replace the ramshackle ’90s add-on with a Japanese inspired addition, alongside a luscious sprawling garden designed by Mud Office. In the process, the original cottage rooms were upgraded with insulation and double-glazing to ensure higher thermal performance consistent with the rest of the new build.

‘We began to see the house as two parts,’ explains principal architect, Simon Knott. ‘The original house was softer and more decorative, with the period detailing of fireplaces and plaster cornices accentuated.’ He adds that the contemporary addition is more raw and elemental, devised to be constantly engaging with the wild landscaped garden through its timber palette and extensive glazing.

Having performed minor structural tweaks to the original dwelling, the architects retained the double fronted heritage structure, and split the rear half of the long rectangular site lengthwise to integrate a substantial garden alongside the new build. The resulting north facing addition hugs the southern boundary in order to face this green area, allowing the wall-to-wall French doors and tilt-up windows to open the kitchen and communal living areas to the garden.

Masterful custom joinery stretches the length of the extension, simultaneously incorporating a kitchen pantry, walk-in robe, and shelving in one long wall of timber. A dreamy, custom-built window seat is the pièce de résistance of this bespoke timber craftsmanship! The impressive detailing is consistent with the rest of the timber-heavy material palette, and gestures to the charred timber exterior and exposed hardwood beams which support the pitched ceilings.

Tucked behind the living room’s central curved brick wall, the stand-out feature of this home is at the very rear of the residence: the master bathroom! The deep bath and open shower overlook the fringes of dense garden via a large tilt-up window, and take advantage of shade cast by the mini bamboo forest just beyond its frame.

Though the Garden House by BKK is a mosaic of architectural influences from Robyn Boyd’s iconic Walsh Street house, to the mid-century prototype Schaffer House in California, the house stands as an achievement of architectural ingenuity in its own right.

Discover more projects by BKK Architects here.

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