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A Mindful Multi-Generational Family Home In Clifton Hill

Architecture

Creating a brand new home that respects the heritage context of an existing streetscape is no easy feat.

So when Clare Cousins Architects were enlisted to replace a post-war cottage in Clifton Hill with a large, multi-generational family home, the architects started by drawing inspiration from what was already there.

The resulting Esplanade House features salvaged bricks from the site’s original property, thoughtfully incorporating the past into its intriguing design — woven together with Fiona Brockhoff-designed gardens.

4th July, 2022

Inside Esplanade House by Clare Cousins Architecture! Photo – Sharyn Cairns

Striking curves enhance the home throughout. Photo – Sharyn Cairns

Green joinery bring the family’s personality into the kitchen. Photo – Sharyn Cairns

Garden views are captured across the home. Photo – Sharyn Cairns

Timber and concrete materials merge inside. Photo – Sharyn Cairns

An open brick wall frames the vegetable garden at the rear. Photo – Sharyn Cairns

A glimpse into the second floor. Photo – Sharyn Cairns

A peek inside the functional ‘utility building’ at the front of the property. Photo – Sharyn Cairns

The external hallway between the two wings. Photo – Sharyn Cairns

Floor-to-ceiling glass panels break up the all-brick build. Photo – Sharyn Cairns

The stunning facade! Photo – Sharyn Cairns

Christina Karras
Monday 4th July 2022

‘The elongated plan weaves the house and the Fiona Brockhoff-designed garden together’ – Clare Cousins

This spectacular Clifton Hill home occupies a uniquely large, 80 metre-long block for Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs.

But the size also posed a challenge for Clare Cousins Architects, who were asked to design a new home for a couple and their three children.

‘The clients required a home that could accommodate not only their daily lives, but also be the future home for an ageing parent and visiting relatives,’ director Clare Cousins says.

To avoid disrupting the heritage look of the area, the design took cues from the site’s existing post-war cottage. Its old bricks were salvaged and incorporated in the house’s identity, ‘offering a sense of permanence and low-maintenance durability’.

One of the most striking elements of Esplanade House is its compartmentalised layout, defined by curved walls and distinct wings — which merge at the heart of the home.

The entry is set back from the footpath behind a free-standing ‘utility building’ adorned with hit-and-miss brickwork. It stores bikes and solar battery storage, but Clare notes how this clever addition also ensures privacy for the front courtyard and northern wing of children’s bedrooms.

The owners requested that the residence look ‘at ease’ among the predominantly single-storey surrounding homes. This lead to a discrete second floor that serves as the adult’s domain, featuring the main bedroom and study. There’s also self-contained studio at the rear primed for guests.

Inside, sustainably sourced blackbutt timber complements the light-filled living spaces. And the moody green joinery in the kitchen incorportates one of the family’s favourite colours.

The client’s love of gardening was also central to the project. Walled gardens are broken up around the sculptural architecture and a productive garden is the functional centrepiece of the backyard.

‘The elongated plan weaves the house and the Fiona Brockhoff-designed garden together, offering various outdoor settings and vistas from all rooms of the house, while remaining sympathetic to its heritage context,’ Clare explains.

Esplanade House showcases how thoughtful home design can respect the past, whilst remaining firmly anchored in the present — and ensuring relevance well into the future.

See more of Clare Cousins Architects’ work 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