Matthew Eagle, founder and director of ME architects is not in the business of demolishing structurally sound homes.
‘There is something to work with in every existing home, no matter what its bones are/history is,’ he explains. ‘We really have to reconsider this attitude of constantly demolishing and rebuilding anew. The Gold Coast specifically has a really rich built history and we should celebrate it instead of constantly trying to be something it’s not.’
The owners of this Miami, Gold Coast share the same attitude. Their existing 1970s property was unremarkable, but featured several rooms and a distinct character worth preserving.
The existing house and the subtropical location was all the inspiration required for a remarkable reimagining. Three existing bedrooms and a bathroom were retained to the west (requiring little more repainting); the lounge was reconfigured into a dining area/outdoor room; and the kitchen repositioned.
The north-east of the property contains the new additions, including a study to the front, and the main bedroom separated from an en suite by a lush lightwell.
Carving these outdoor spaces from the plan was the most important part of the project. ‘Our process often begins with the development of the outside spaces and connection to the climate,’ says Matthew. ‘As the house sits in a natural gully, it had very little privacy to the rear, so some of the first design moves centred around the creation of the garden wall and landscape. The small gardens carved from the new extension also allow for natural northern light into the new bedroom extension whilst providing protection from the harsh winter sun.’
At the same time, the front of the home engages with passersby, contributing to the street’s character and sense of community.
‘It’s not rocket science. A lot of time is dedicated to resolving practical issues but in a special way,’ Matthew says.
The completed project house meets the needs of contemporary life, but talks to the history and language of the existing property. It’s home connected to place, climate, landscape and street.