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

Food

Julia's Miso Eggplant Rice Bowls

Quick, tasty and oh-so-healthy (and vegan!) - Julia Busuttil Nishimura's sticky and sweet miso eggplant bowl will be your new go-to dinner!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Homes

A Melbourne Family’s Ever Changing ‘Light House’

An innovative, sculptural screen invites dynamic shadows into the family home of Andrew Jaques, and Christina Chiodo, renovated by Layan.

Shopping

These Deliciously Colourful Picnic Rugs Are Made From Recycled Plastic!

The season of picnicking has arrived, and we've found the best rugs to see you through pizzas in the park and fish and chips on the beach.

News

Don't Miss Major Discounts On Designer Furniture At DOMO's Black Friday Sale!

Here’s everything you need to know about DOMO’s Black Friday Sale, with 20% off iconic designer brands, for one day only!
Sponsored

Gardens

A Sensitively Built Coastal Garden, Designed To Look ‘Untouched’

The Garden Social carefully designed a garden, built into waterfront sand dunes on NSW's South Coast, where the serene seascape beyond takes...
Christina Karras

Stays

An Architect’s Handcrafted Home + Bathhouse Turned Unique Accommodation

Take a look inside Liptrap Loft—a one-of-a-kind cabin with a Japanese-inspired bathhouse in Walkerville, Victoria.

Interiors

A New Kitchen Designed To Look Old, With No White Joinery In Sight!

A Reservoir, Melbourne kitchen with the look of the past and functionality of the present.

News

See Ethiopian-Norwegian Artist Olana Janfa's Colourful, Debut Solo Show!

The Melbourne-based painter’s first solo show is opening tonight, exploring themes of language, race and status in his playful works.
Christina Karras

Shopping

11 Of The Best Places To Score Vintage Furniture + Homewares

Hunting down everything from 70s modular sofas, to retro gems from Europe, see the 11 vintage sellers and stores we love!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Charming Victorian Cottage, Reorientated + Optimised For Decades To Come

Pipkorn Kilpatrick goes back to basics to enhance the interior and natural light of this Victorian cottage.

Design Eye

Architect Luke Fry, On Modernising A Heritage Home

Architect Luke Fry shares his advice on sensitively balancing old and new, when modernising a heritage home!

Architecture

A Floating House Entangled In Brush Box Trees On North Stradbroke Island

The tree canopy takes precedence over ocean views in this holiday home for three families, designed by Conrad Gargett architects.

News

An Exhibition Of Abstract, Thought-Provoking Pieces Is On Now At Heide

See a line-up of abstract works exploring negative space and time, featuring leading Australians and world-famous artists like Anish Kapoor!...
Sponsored

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Designer Creating Clever Furniture, For Small Spaces

Meet designer Katrina Ramm of Ka Ra Studio, who's playful pieces that that make the most of the ‘precious space’ inside our homes!
Christina Karras

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Kate Reid, Founder Of Lune Croissanterie

A peek into the inner workings of Lune's ‘croissant Formula One team’ - and what this impressive entrepreneur gets up to in a day!
Christina Karras

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

Shopping

11 Of The Best Places To Score Vintage Furniture + Homewares

Hunting down everything from 70s modular sofas, to retro gems from Europe, see the 11 vintage sellers and stores we love!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Floating House Entangled In Brush Box Trees On North Stradbroke Island

The tree canopy takes precedence over ocean views in this holiday home for three families, designed by Conrad Gargett architects.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Kate Reid, Founder Of Lune Croissanterie

A peek into the inner workings of Lune's ‘croissant Formula One team’ - and what this impressive entrepreneur gets up to in a day!
Christina Karras

Design Eye

Architect Luke Fry, On Modernising A Heritage Home

Architect Luke Fry shares his advice on sensitively balancing old and new, when modernising a heritage home!

Interiors

A Charming Victorian Cottage, Reorientated + Optimised For Decades To Come

Pipkorn Kilpatrick goes back to basics to enhance the interior and natural light of this Victorian cottage.

News

An Exhibition Of Abstract, Thought-Provoking Pieces Is On Now At Heide

See a line-up of abstract works exploring negative space and time, featuring leading Australians and world-famous artists like Anish Kapoor!...
Sponsored

News

Don't Miss Major Discounts On Designer Furniture At DOMO's Black Friday Sale!

Here’s everything you need to know about DOMO’s Black Friday Sale, with 20% off iconic designer brands, for one day only!
Sponsored

Homes

A Melbourne Family’s Ever Changing ‘Light House’

An innovative, sculptural screen invites dynamic shadows into the family home of Andrew Jaques, and Christina Chiodo, renovated by Layan.

News

See Ethiopian-Norwegian Artist Olana Janfa's Colourful, Debut Solo Show!

The Melbourne-based painter’s first solo show is opening tonight, exploring themes of language, race and status in his playful works.
Christina Karras

Food

Julia's Miso Eggplant Rice Bowls

Quick, tasty and oh-so-healthy (and vegan!) - Julia Busuttil Nishimura's sticky and sweet miso eggplant bowl will be your new go-to dinner!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Shopping

These Deliciously Colourful Picnic Rugs Are Made From Recycled Plastic!

The season of picnicking has arrived, and we've found the best rugs to see you through pizzas in the park and fish and chips on the beach.

Interiors

A New Kitchen Designed To Look Old, With No White Joinery In Sight!

A Reservoir, Melbourne kitchen with the look of the past and functionality of the present.

Stays

An Architect’s Handcrafted Home + Bathhouse Turned Unique Accommodation

Take a look inside Liptrap Loft—a one-of-a-kind cabin with a Japanese-inspired bathhouse in Walkerville, Victoria.

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Designer Creating Clever Furniture, For Small Spaces

Meet designer Katrina Ramm of Ka Ra Studio, who's playful pieces that that make the most of the ‘precious space’ inside our homes!
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Sensitively Built Coastal Garden, Designed To Look ‘Untouched’

The Garden Social carefully designed a garden, built into waterfront sand dunes on NSW's South Coast, where the serene seascape beyond takes...
Christina Karras

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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net