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A Japanese-Inspired Heritage Home Transformation

Architecture

The clients of this interwar bungalow in Hawthorn came to Ha Architecture seeking a complete transformation inspired by Japanese architecture – a minimalist, tranquil space full of natural materials and connected to the outdoors.

Ha Architecture delivered on this brief and more, designing an almost entirely new home behind the original frontage to meet heritage restrictions. 

This entrance offers a discreet experience, with a new internal Japanese courtyard revealed only as one moves through the home.

3rd December, 2021

Courtyard House is a Japanese-inspired alterations and additions project by Ha Architecture. L’art De Vivre Lounge Chair by Fomu from District.  Archive Low Sofa by Nonn. Painted stools from Mark Tuckey. Landscape design by Kihara LandscapesPhoto – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

The clients requested a modern, minimalist house with abundant natural light and views to the garden. Five to Nine Daybed by Tacchini from Stylecraft. L’art De Vivre Lounge Chair by Fomu from District.  Archive Low Sofa by Nonn. Gubi 9602 Floor Lamp from In Good CompanyKashmir Chairs by Resident from District. Fragment Table by Resident from District. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

When the doors are open you can hear the trickling water throughout the house, and it transports you to a magical place far from suburban Melbourne,’ says project architect Madeleine Hodge. Painted stool from Mark Tuckey. Zoe Lounge by Verzelloni from Stylecraft. Landscape design by Kihara Landscapes. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Operable timber screens allow the inhabitants to adjust for changing light and climatic conditions. L’art De Vivre Lounge Chair by Fomu from District. Gubi 9602 Floor Lamp from In Good Company. Painted stools from Mark Tuckey. Landscape design by Kihara Landscapes. Photos – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Cross-hatched timber creates a harmonious juxtaposition with the garden’s organic elements of greenery, water and stone. Painted stool from Mark Tuckey. Zoe Lounge by Verzelloni from Stylecraft. Kashmir Chairs by Resident from District. Fragment Table by Resident from District. Antique vase from Kazari + Ziguzagu. Landscape design by Kihara Landscapes. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Apart from the facade, front guest bedroom, and original lead light windows repurposed throughout, this is a fundamentally different home. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Landscape design by Kihara Landscapes. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

The onsen-style bath, where the ritual of bathing takes place in a more natural setting.Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

The home has been renovated with no visible presence of a new addition beyond. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Framed views to outdoor space evoke the clients’ desired ambience of tranquility. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

Amelia Barnes
Friday 3rd December 2021

‘It transports you to a magical place far from suburban Melbourne.’ – Madeleine Hodge

The biggest difficulty designing this home in Hawthorn, Victoria eventually inspired its success. 

Previously a dark interwar bungalow with a ‘90s rear extension, Ha Architecture were engaged to create a modern, minimalist house with abundant natural light and views to the garden.

The challenge for the architects was navigating the home’s heritage overly, which stipulated no impact to the area’s neighbourhood character. This included the lengthy driveway down the western side, which increased the home’s ‘frontage’ visible from the street. 

These constraints ultimately drove Ha’s design solution: to maintain the existing roof form and facade, while carving out a large courtyard with a trickling water feature from the eastern side of the house. A new north-facing, indoor-outdoor area was thereby created, fundamentally altering the experience of this home, although with zero impact to its street view. 

This juxtaposition between the new and old spaces eventually became project architect Madeleine Hodge’s favourite feature of the home. ‘I love how it’s invisible from the street – a completely discreet concept,’ she says. ‘It’s only once you’re inside that this beautiful sanctuary reveals itself.’  

This central courtyard and its connection to the interiors draws on principles of Japanese architecture, continuing the subtle theme of the home’s previously under-utilised backyard. 

‘The key idea, as we interpreted it, was to pare the project back to its bare essentials. This architectural style is not all about the building — it’s about the connection to the outside,’ says Madeleine. ‘The influence of Japanese architecture reflects the travel history and personal philosophy of its occupants.’ 

The use of timber screens around the courtyard is a key hallmark of this approach. Another is the onsen-style bath in the en suite, looking out to its own private courtyard. Deeper inside the floor plan, an east-facing room is designed to inspire a daily morning yoga practice. 

Apart from the facade, front guest bedroom, and original lead light windows repurposed throughout, this is a fundamentally different home. Its dramatic update provides occupants a coherent and connected set of experiences, based around lovely living spaces that enjoy year-round solar access and connection to the outdoor spaces designed by Kihara Landscapes

Madeleine says. ‘When the doors are open you can hear the trickling water throughout the house and it transports you to a magical place far from suburban Melbourne.’

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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