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An Art Deco Renovation That Champions Brick

Architecture

The use of brick has become a signature of Clare Cousins Architects’ residential projects, making them the perfect practice to extend this art deco home in Melbourne’s Glen Iris. 

The renovation and addition successfully honour the 1930s home’s original architecture, with touches of frivolity (an outdoor bath!) designed especially for the family clients.

Repeated curves and warm colours across new split levels extend into the landscape, connecting the garden and interiors for the very first time.

12th July, 2022

Waterfall House by Clare Cousins Architects. Photography – Tess Kelly

The brief was to expand the home’s art deco features, while better accommodating a young family, and establishing a prominent garden. ‘Photography – Tess Kelly

The original art deco architecture is reflected in the curving new addition made from monolithic cream brick, with panes of glass underneath reminiscent of a waterfall. Photography – Tess Kelly

Spotted gum is used throughout the interior joinery, furniture, and wall panelling, complementing the warm earthy tones found on the exterior. Photography – Tess Kelly

New details reflect the character and frivolity of the existing home and owners including an outdoor on the upstairs deck. Photography – Tess Kelly

At the rear, a narrow outcrop of the lush garden designed by Eckersley Garden Architecture now creeps towards the centre of the house. Photography – Tess Kelly

The new sunken lounge. Photography – Tess Kelly

A series of internal level changes navigate the site’s steep fall and subtly defining spaces within. Photography – Tess Kelly

The soft art deco inspired curves and warm colours continue out into the landscape with freeform sandstone paving and verdant green garden beds. Photography – Tess Kelly

The original house sits neatly in the streetscape. Photography – Tess Kelly

Round openings between the deck and the garden below reference the original architecture.Photography – Tess Kelly

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 12th July 2022

Clare Cousins Architects’ familiarity and expertise with brick made them the natural choice to extend this 1930s interwar home in Glen Iris’ heritage Summerhill Estate Precinct. 

The brief was to expand the home’s art deco features, while better accommodating a young family, and establishing a prominent garden. ‘While they loved the house and the area, our clients had outgrown the inward-facing two-bedroom residence and sought a spacious and light-filled home with a study. It was important to the clients to keep the character they loved of the existing house and carry this through into the new extension,’ says Oliver Duff, director of architecture at Clare Cousins. 

The original art deco architecture is reflected in the curving new addition, made from monolithic cream brick, with sheets of glass underneath reminiscent of a waterfall. Handmade Krause bricks were chosen especially to resonate with the character of the existing dwelling, with beautiful detailing achieved by builders Original Projects.

While the original house sat neatly in the streetscape, the rear was disconnected from the backyard, which was previously positioned well below the house. The architects addressed this problem through a series of internal level changes, overcoming the site’s steep fall and subtly defining spaces within.

At the rear, a narrow outcrop of the lush garden designed by Eckersley Garden Architecture now creeps towards the centre of the house. Freeform sandstone paving ties in with the earthy spotted gum applied liberally indoors. 

The home’s original rooms have been sensitively updated, retaining features such as steel framed windows, period joinery, and etched glass bathroom windows. New details reflect the character of the existing home and the personality of the owners, including an outdoor on the upstairs deck, and round openings between the deck and the garden below. 

The project was completed in March 2020 — just ahead of Melbourne’s first Covid lockdown. ‘The appreciation of seeing our clients moving from their temporary accommodation into their new light-filled and spacious home and garden — where they could find sanctuary to work and relax — was incredibly rewarding in such a difficult time,’ says Oliver. 

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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