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A Timeless Renovation Incorporating Three Eras Of Design History

Architecture

When a heritage house contains a newer addition, such as an 80s or 90s extension, an architect is often briefed to remove it.

But in the case of the Autumn House in Carlton North, Studio Bright were instructed to create a design that sympathetically united the original Victorian terrace, the 1980s Mick Jörgensen renovation, and new contemporary elements. 

The result is an absolute feat!

20th June, 2022

The Autumn House by Bright Studio . Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Green pockets landscaped by Eckersley break up the built forms of the house with multiple natural environments. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Warm timber joinery and furniture create a lush and inviting space. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Standing in the shade of the towering elm tree, residents can looking into the belly of the house. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Jasmine pokes through the mesh cladding the second storey and spills into the central courtyard. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Blush and plum hues denote the comforting lounge room overlooking a second landscaped pocket. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Double doors connect the kitchen and dining room to the main courtyard. The front door leading to the laneway can be glimpsed on the left. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Looking into the Mick Jörgensen addition from the new dining room. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Curbed timber and glazing frame the courtyard from the main living zone. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

The Mick Jörgensen living room retains its distinct 80s material palette. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

The main bedroom upstairs contains a long built-in window seat. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

The study overlooks the street on one side and the internal courtyard on the other. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

The blue bathrooms are a distinct tonal shift to the rest of the house. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

One of the ground floor bedrooms designed by Mick retains its original timber detailing but now has a view of the courtyard. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

A second bathroom. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

The laundry is clad totally in blush coloured tiles. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

The rooftop terrace connected to the main bedroom suite. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

The wedge-shaped second storey is furnished with creepers and jasmine, which spill over into the neighbouring laneway. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

The house sits on two adjacent blocks, one of which abuts a laneway. The main entrance to the house is down the side. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

An elegant curved crack opens this urban oasis home to the surrounding street. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

The traditional Victorian front sits beside its contemporary addition. The towering elm at the centre of the house can be glimpsed from the streetscape. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 20th June 2022

‘The project is, in effect, two separate renovations and a contemporary addition. Each with their own character, style and nuance.’ – Maia Close

It goes without saying, but Mel Bright of Studio Bright knows what she’s doing! It’s no wonder this residential project in Melbourne’s inner north has been shortlisted and commended for some of the most prestigious design awards in the country. 

Alongside project architect Maia Close, Mel and the Studio Bright team transformed this typical Victorian terrace with a non-typical 1980s addition by Mick Jörgensen into a contemporary home that moves fluidly between three eras of design history. 

‘The existing house was a single fronted Victorian on a double block that was architect Mick Jörgensen’s own home,’ explains Mel. 

‘Mick had extensively renovated the house through the 80s. He had added a series of living spaces, a studio and various outbuildings surrounding the beloved elm tree. While all of these spaces were beautiful in their outlook – it was all south facing, receiving very little light and remained very cold in winter months.’  

Though beautiful, the layout offered little room to move for the young, growing family who bought this house in 2017 when Jörgensen died. Enter Studio Bright, who united the somewhat disparate arrangement of rooms and posed a new structure that could accommodate the new owners. 

Entering from the side laneway, the front door opens onto a central courtyard. The towering elm tree at its centre was the anchor-point for the subsequent house design. 

The ground floor wraps around this central green zone, leading first to the open plan living, dining and kitchen area. Curved glazing connects the lounge space to another yard at front of the house, ensuring all communal spaces are book-ended with natural outlooks. 

A sliding door connects the newly designed dining space to the original Jörgensen living room on the adjacent block, which is clad with dark timber ceilings and layered 80s brickwork. Beyond this lies a sequence of bedrooms and bathroom, the last of which joins a final ground floor garden at the rear of the property via a balcony. 

A third wing completes the U-shaped ground floor footprint, and contains a study and a few ancillary rooms.

Hidden behind a wall in the lounge, a curved staircase leads to the wedge-shaped second storey containing just the main bedroom suite and outdoor terrace.

In a locale typically dominated by tiny miners’ cottages on minuscule blocks, the temptation to maximise the unusually generous amount of space on the plot was resisted by both client and architect. Instead, they opted for multiple green spaces designed by Eckersley to create breathing room and reprieve in the inner-city residence.

The material palette knits the entire structure into one cohesive unit. The timber-lined interior of the contemporary addition with pops of blush and plum furniture were inspired by the Jörgensen-design section of the house, as well as a gesture to the elm trees changing hues. Meanwhile, the auburn mesh ‘veil’ cladding the exterior complements this tonal theme, whilst referencing the conventional Victorian red-brick vernacular.

‘The project is, in effect, two separate renovations and a contemporary addition,’ says Maia. ‘Each with their own character, style and nuance. The challenge was working through each of these layers, and the transitions between each, to ensure that the history of each era was kept intact whilst ensuring the project would be cohesive as a whole.’

Studio Bright’s renovation adds a new layer of creativity to a beloved house, already rich with architectural history. 

See more projects from Studio Bright here.

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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