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This Inner-City Melbourne Home Unfolds Like A Garden Path

Architecture

Creating an inner-city Melbourne home akin to the mountain ranges of rural New Zealand, or the west coast beaches of South Australia sounds like an impossible brief, but has been remarkably achieved in this incredible house designed by Architecture Architecture.

Drawing on the qualities of these vast landscapes, the Victorian house in Brunswick has been overhauled and extended to offer subtle shifts in light, texture, and views. 

The completed house has a sense of natural ease, unfolding like a stroll through the garden.

1st November, 2021

Architecture Architecture director Michael Roper lyrically describes the condition of the original house: ‘As we found it, the house was a tired, muttering Victorian with crooked teeth and stains down its front. The usual accretion of half-baked extensions and questionable fit-outs.’ Photo – Tom Ross.

The house is filled with elegant nooks that display a cross section of materials. Photo – Tom Ross.

Materials were chosen for their modesty, tactility, and ability to change over time, such as oiled timber, raw concrete, galvanised steel, and bagged brick with a subtle pink pigment. Photo – Tom Ross.

Layers of timber, bagged brick and crazy paving unfold from every vantage point. Photo – Tom Ross.

In-built seating and shelving recedes into the walls. Photo – Tom Ross.

The kitchen and dining area is separated from the living room via a paved green lightwell. Photo – Tom Ross.

The clients ‘had an interest in blurred thresholds, distant views, intimate spaces, tactile materials, and the play of light,’ Michael says. Photo – Tom Ross.

Brushed metal wraps the entire sink nook and window frame. Photo – Tom Ross.

Timber slatted joinery contrasts with the brushed metal sink nook. Photo – Tom Ross.

The bathroom is clean and less tonal than the rest of the house. Photo – Tom Ross.

The bagged brick is shaded pink and grey. Photo – Tom Ross.

The exposed brick neighbouring wall creates a dialogue with the material palette of Arcadia. Photo – Tom Ross.

Inspiration was drawn from the clients’ respective upbringings: one in rural New Zealand, where braided rivers cut through mountain ranges, and the other on the dry west coast of South Australia. Photo – Tom Ross.

The rear exterior indicates the beautiful material palette beyond. Photo – Tom Ross.

Light and shadow create contrast as well as the materials. Photo – Tom Ross.

The front facade betrays nothing of the feast of materials beyond! Photo – Tom Ross.

Amelia Barnes
Monday 1st November 2021

‘Our vision for the project drew primarily from our clients’ beautifully-crafted brief; evocative enough that all we needed to do was follow it, like a treasure map.’ – Michael Roper

Director of Architecture Architecture Michael Roper paints a clear picture when describing the previous state of this Brunswick house. ‘As we found it, the house was a tired, muttering Victorian with crooked teeth and stains down its front. The usual accretion of half-baked extensions and questionable fit-outs.’

Just as evocative is Michael’s poetic recounting of the clients’ brief, which focused more on creating a certain feeling, rather than material items. ‘They had an interest in blurred thresholds, distant views, intimate spaces, tactile materials, and the play of light,’ he says.  

Inspiration for these elements was drawn from the clients’ respective upbringings: one in rural New Zealand, where braided rivers cut through mountain ranges, and the other on the dry west coast of South Australia, dotted with white beaches and granite boulders. 

The clients spoke openly about their aspirations for the home, without ever being prescriptive, allowing Architecture Architecture’s vision to naturally unfold. ‘Our vision for the project drew primarily from our clients’ beautifully-crafted brief; evocative enough that all we needed to do was follow it, like a treasure map,’ Michael says. 

The resulting home sees a patchwork of original rooms retained, with new spaces woven through and above them. Some original rooms enjoy their restored charms, while others have been transformed into courtyards.

Materials were chosen for their modesty, tactility, and ability to change over time, such as oiled timber, raw concrete, galvanised steel, and bagged brick with a subtle pink pigment. ‘Unlike paint, which can flatten, the pigmented mortar allows a variation of brick tones to shine through, while still lending it a blush of colour,’ explains Michael of the latter material’s benefits. ‘It feels more natural, subtle and dreamy.’

The architect credits the true craftsmanship of Moon Building Group for achieving this seemingly relaxed and uncomplicated built form.

The rejuvenated home functions like a garden path, where each space draws you into the next, all the way from the front gate to the laneway out the back. Rooms unfold to offer various light, texture and views, serving as an homage to the owners’ upbringings in nature.

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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