This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Reimagining The Suburban Townhouse

Architecture

Townhouses projects are a practical and relatively affordable way of responsibly increasing suburban density, but not all townhouses are created equal! 

In one of their first completed projects as a studio, Fowler and Ward took up the challenge, designing two beautiful, highly liveable, Thornbury townhouses shared by two generations on one subdivided block.

Let’s just say, there’s a reason this young architecture studio took out the Emerging Designer award at this year’s TDF + Laminex Design Awards!

4th December, 2020

Thornbury Townhouses by Fowler and Ward. Photo – Tom Ross

The site contains two townhouses for a couple and their parents. Photo – Tom Ross

Like the existing streetscape, the houses present to the street with generous entry porches, low front fences and green gardens. Photo – Tom Ross

Low maintenance, commonplace and robust materials were chosen for their longevity and cost effectiveness. Photo – Tom Ross

Raked ceilings offer access to northern light, openness and drama. Artwork by Paul Papamanos.Photo – Tom Ross

Artwork by Paul Papamanos. Photo – Tom Ross

Photo – Tom Ross

Internal finishes for the kitchen and stairs have been tailored the to the individual families. Photo – Tom Ross

In both homes, a double-height void allows northern light to pour into the interior. Photo – Tom Ross

‘Although the townhouses are contemporary, we drew inspiration from the heritage cul-de-sac of clinker brick houses across the street,’ says architect Tara Ward. Photo – Tom Ross

Placing the stairs behind the large entry windows creates privacy. Photo – Tom Ross

Playful bathroom materials. Photo – Tom Ross

Artwork by Paul Papamanos. Photo – Tom Ross

Rich colours in the bathrooms contrast with the otherwise neutral interior palette. Photo – Tom Ross

The project has resulted in two beautiful, highly liveable Thornbury townhouses. Artwork by Stephen Ward. Photo – Tom Ross

Amelia Barnes
Friday 4th December 2020

‘In Melbourne, townhouses are generally built as speculative developments without architect involvement. This often means they are constructed as large as council will allow, and as cheap as possible.’ – Tara Ward

A  young couple, their child, and their parents inherited a Thornbury property in 2013 comprising a rundown Californian bungalow and three sheds. Both parties saw an opportunity to enliven the site with two new townhouses – one for the young family, and one for the grandparents – and engaged Fowler and Ward for the job.

Recognising the common shortcomings of many local townhouses, the young architecture studio had a strong vision from the outset. 

‘In Melbourne, townhouses are generally built as speculative developments without architect involvement. This often means they are constructed as large as council will allow, and as cheap as possible,’ says Fowler and Ward director Tara Ward. ‘The resultant buildings are generic, have poor internal amenity, materials that don’t age well, and forms which dominate neighbouring buildings.’

In contrast, Fowler and Ward designed two townhouses that read as a single structure from the street, drawing inspiration from the heritage cul-de-sac with its exisiting clinker brick houses. 

The generous entry porches, low fences, and front gardens typical of the neighbourhood have all been emulated in the project, along with a slightly off-balance gable. The scale of this roof complements the existing streetscape, while providing enough height for a second-storey in both homes, which stand only 1200mm higher than their single-storey predecessor. 

Inside, the two homes are nearly identical (as is common in townhouses projects), with the exception of varying garage layouts and kitchen finishes specifically tailored to occupants. A double-height void in both allows northern light to pour into the interiors, and internal finishes utilise low-maintenance, easily-sourced materials for longevity and cost effectiveness. 

This project is an engaging example of small scale, multi-residential development that delights in its suburban surroundings. By challenging the often poorly executed townhouse typology with a new set of expectations, Fowler and Ward have presented a viable, attractive option for home owners and developers of the future. 

See more projects from Fowler and Ward here!

This Week

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.
02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Creative People

The Best News Story Of 2021, So Far!

We check in on Think Thornbury owners Maggie May and Josh Kelly and their son Remy and get an update on their family!

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Sit Front Row At The Country To Couture Fashion Show Tonight!

The 2020 runway show featuring an incredible lineup of contemporary First Nations designers will be broadcast via Facebook this Friday (toda...

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

Studio Visit

The Dreamy New Retail Space Of A Professional Plant Charmer

Consider us charmed by Ryan Klewer’s (aka Plant Charmer) brand new headquarters in East Brunswick!
Sasha Gattermayr
  6 hours ago

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
Sasha Gattermayr

View Comments

Similar Stories

02:11

TDF Design Awards

Fowler + Ward Are The Next Bright Young Things In Australian Architecture!

Introducing Jessie Fowler and Tara Ward, whose fledgling practice took out the Emerging Designer Award at the TDF + Laminex Design Awards 20...

Architecture

A Sustainable, Responsibly Dense Townhouse Project In Elwood

HIP V. HYPE in collaboration with Fieldwork have created Ruskin Elwood – four townhouses with solar panels, battery storage, and powered b...

Architecture

A Curious City Home, Nestled In Park Land

Architecture Architecture balance indoors and out in this clever renovation of a 1940s house in Williamstown North.

This Week

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.

Creative People

The Best News Story Of 2021, So Far!

We check in on Think Thornbury owners Maggie May and Josh Kelly and their son Remy and get an update on their family!

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...
02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!

Studio Visit

The Dreamy New Retail Space Of A Professional Plant Charmer

Consider us charmed by Ryan Klewer’s (aka Plant Charmer) brand new headquarters in East Brunswick!
Sasha Gattermayr
  6 hours ago

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
Sasha Gattermayr

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Sit Front Row At The Country To Couture Fashion Show Tonight!

The 2020 runway show featuring an incredible lineup of contemporary First Nations designers will be broadcast via Facebook this Friday (toda...
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr

Similar Stories

02:11

TDF Design Awards

Fowler + Ward Are The Next Bright Young Things In Australian Architecture!

Introducing Jessie Fowler and Tara Ward, whose fledgling practice took out the TDF + Laminex Design Awards Emerging Designer Award!

Architecture

A Sustainable, Responsibly Dense Townhouse Project In Elwood

Introducing Ruskin Elwood – four townhouses with solar panels, battery storage, and powered by 100 per cent renewable energy!

Architecture

A Curious City Home, Nestled In Park Land

Architecture Architecture balance indoors and out in this clever renovation of a 1940s house in Williamstown North.

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.