‘A Periscope’ is a recently renovated and extended worker’s cottage in Melbourne by Architecture Architecture. The project is located on a tight Richmond street dominated by unsympathetic additions — a landscape neither the clients nor architects were interested in contributing to.
As the clients explained in their initial brief, ‘In the scheme of our street, we would love to avoid adding yet another grey building, or being too imposing/looming over the street. We both love contemporary Japanese architecture: simple white and gentle timber palettes, inventive space, and beautiful windows.’
Working with a compact site of just 84 square metres, Architecture Architecture needed to be efficient with space and set any additions back from the street.
Technically no bedrooms or bathrooms have been added to the property, but their generosity and positioning has increased dramatically. Instead of two bedrooms occupying almost half of the single-storey floor plan, one has been relocated to an upper-storey addition opening to a protected outdoor deck. The open-plan kitchen, dining, and living room has also nearly doubled in size.
The original cottage adjoins another terrace on one side, making the interiors completely devoid of northern light. To address this problem, Architecture Architecture designed a double-height void or ‘periscope’ at the centre of the home. ‘On such a narrow site, this would typically be the darkest part of the house, yet this sky-window to the full width of the property inundated light into the heart of the home, whilst integrating the required vertical circulation,’ says Nick James, design director at Architecture Architecture.
Almost all the furniture is built-in to the home or serves multiple functions to save space including a bench seat, sofa, dining table, projector, and fold-out bed. Remarkably clever cupboards act as balustrades, and the staircase doubles as a bookshelf.
‘The house feels like one large piece of joinery,’ says Nick. ‘All of life’s collections can now find a home in the incredible amount of storage that has been integrated within the home.’
The completed project is a masterclass in quality over quantity, turning a simple cottage into an inspiring contemporary home.