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A ‘Folding’ Edwardian Home, Designed To Maximise Natural Light

Architecture

Previous renovations had significantly altered this Edwardian home, removing many of its original heritage details in the process, but doing little to address its lack of natural light. 

Timmins + Whyte Architecture + Design were brought in to work their magic, essentially pressing ‘reset’ on the entire home. The practice completely rebuilt the oldest rooms for modern sustainability standards, while adding a new extension with an innovative ‘folding’ roof addressing both the pattern of the street and natural light. 

As the project’s name and roof form suggests, renovations have improved this entire house 10 fold! 

5th April, 2022

10 Fold House is humble, playful and offers moments of luxury where it counts. Photo – Peter Bennetts

Timmins + Whyte Architecture + Design were brought in to work their magic, essentially pressing ‘reset’ on the entire home. The practice completely rebuilt the oldest rooms to match modern sustainability standards, while adding a new extension with an innovative ‘folding’ roof addressing both the pattern of the street and natural light. Photo – Peter Bennetts

Timmins + Whyte overcame the original home’s issues with a new roof featuring 10 individual folds, which draws light into the belly of the house. Photo – Peter Bennetts

‘Throughout, the space creates its own sense of expansion and compression – from intimate dining to the towering ceiling suspended over a wall of handpicked art. The design further opens the kitchen at the rear to a now private garden, where neighbours’ houses are unseen, yet their mature trees including a palm and Jacaranda become part of our client’s seasonal experience of their own garden.’ Artwork, ‘Two Boats’ by Margie Sheppard. Photo – Peter Bennetts

Each room has a view to landscape and light. Artwork, ‘Two Boats’ by Margie Sheppard. Photo – Peter Bennetts

‘On the ground floor, we relocated the bathroom and laundry into the middle of the house with a service/lightwell to allow the kitchen, living and dining space to be built out to both boundaries.’ Photo – Peter Bennetts

The folds in the roof over the living area create a butterfly shape. Triangular windows frame views of neighbouring trees, a palm and a Jacaranda. Artwork, ‘Two Boats’ by Margie Sheppard. Photo – Peter Bennetts

The eastern boundary wall is the only remaining element of the original home. Artwork by Nycki Rozakeas. Photo – Peter Bennetts

Exposed brick on the original boundary wall. Photo – Peter Bennetts

Openable skylights over the stair exhaust hot air out in summer, and the upper bedrooms benefit from the heat rising from downstairs in winter. Photo – Peter Bennetts

A new upstairs bedroom with city views. Photo – Peter Bennetts

A spacious and contemporary new bathroom. Photo – Peter Bennetts

The house humbly addresses the street with a contemporary tweak to the Edwardian cottage. Photo – Peter Bennetts

The two-storey addition sits further back, and folds down to the eastern neighbour, hiding the volumes that sit behind it. The rebuilt original room is all white, in keeping with what was on the site and the neighbouring houses. Photo – Peter Bennetts

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 5th April 2022

‘Throughout, the space creates its own sense of expansion and compression.’

Timmins + Whyte Architecture + Design were engaged to transform this Edwardian home in Abbotsford, Victoria, following several prior renovations. The original plan was to retain at least the front room of the existing house, but on closer inspection, this required re-stumping and new flooring – alongside new plastering, new wiring, and new insulation! Even the home’s period facade had previously been altered, leaving nothing of heritage value. ‘So, rather than repair it all, it was rebuilt in the exact same dimensions and proportions,’ says Sally Timmins, co-director of Timmins + Whyte. 

The rebuild and two-storey extension focused on addressing the home’s shortcomings, such as an existing bathroom that stood between the kitchen and the north-facing yard, and a laundry only accessible from the outside. ‘Like many inner-city single fronted blocks, the lot size was long and thin and, in this case, it had a short, north-facing end. The challenge for us was to manipulate the layout and setbacks in a way that maximised the natural light into all zones,’ says Sally. 

Timmins + Whyte overcame these issues with a new roof featuring 10 individual folds, which draws light right into the centre of the house. The roof’s form minimises bulk to the eastern neighbour, before rising up to its large two-storey western neighbour.

‘Throughout, the space creates its own sense of expansion and compression – from intimate dining to the towering ceiling suspended over a wall of handpicked art’ Sally explains. ‘The design further opens the kitchen at the rear to a now private garden, where neighbours’ houses are unseen, yet their mature trees including a palm and Jacaranda become part of our client’s seasonal experience of their own garden.’ 

Internally, the architects relocated the bathroom and laundry to the middle of the ground floor, while adding two new bedrooms upstairs. The clients also invested in solar panels and water tanks, as well as upgrading wall and roof insulation. 

The completed home, nicknamed 10 Fold House, is best appreciated from the living room banquette seat, where the now flourishing seasonal and edible garden sits at window height, and sunlight streams in. 

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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