Andrew Simpson Architects were engaged to renovate and extend this historic late 1880s terrace in North Fitzroy. The brief was generally to refurbish and consolidate the entire property (that had been loosely divided into three different areas for renting) to suit a couple and their son.
The house is a classic late 1880s Melbourne terrace, but until recently, the interiors told a different story.
‘The unusual configuration of the existing house precipitated an extended conversation with the owners about what initially attracted them to the property,’ says director Andrew Simpson. ‘We were fascinated by their admission of being Italophiles, with a fondness for the landscape of Tuscany where they were married.’
This conversation inspired the extension, which features elements of 15th century Italian architecture evident in the existing home. ‘The siting of the building at the top of a hill, the central courtyard, the line of pencil pines, the use of water, and the importance of landscape all contributed to this inference,’ says Andrew.
There was also sufficient space on the block for a significant garden (unusual for an inner city property!), which the architects capitalised on in collaboration with garden designer Renata Fairhall.
Renovations saw the front portion of the house essentially restored, while additions in the centre were demolished. In their place, the architects designed a contemporary extension mirroring the generous proportions of the original home. ‘The geometry creates varied spatial experiences, expansion and contraction horizontally and vertically, reinforcing the series of stepped courtyards,’ says Andrew.
The material palette similarly reflects the rich warmth of the original dwelling, but with a contemporary edge, incorporating cedar wall and ceiling linings, American oak joinery and floorboards, concrete bench tops and splash backs, handmade brass sinks, limestone and bluestone paving, and charred silvertop ash cladding!
The age and layout of this home provided numerous challenges, including what to do with the awkwardly-located existing pool. Andrew Simpson Architects’ response – turn this into a water storage solution!
Much of the former pool now provides 40,000 litres of water storage to the home, while the small remaining portion serves as a planter for a deciduous crepe myrtle in the central courtyard.