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A Thoughtful Transformation Of A Worker’s Cottage In Richmond

Architecture

A periscope is an apparatus that allows an observer (typically in a submerged submarine or behind a high obstacle) to see things otherwise out of sight.

Architecture Architecture were inspired by this idea in a recent alterations and additions project of a worker’s cottage in Richmond, Melbourne. Playing on the idea of a traditional periscope, the architects inserted a double-height void to draw light deep into the centre of the home. 

Clever space-saving joinery enhances the interiors within, creating a home that belies its compact 84 square metre site.

25th August, 2022

A ‘periscope’ and clever space-saving joinery enhance this Richmond worker’s cottage transformed by Architecture Architecture. Photography – Tom Ross

An upper-storey addition was added to the home, and the ground floor living area extended. Photography – Tom Ross

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. Photography – Tom Ross

The size of the open-plan kitchen, dining and living room has also nearly doubled. Photography – Tom Ross

Architecture Architecture designed a double-height void or ‘periscope’ at the centre of the home to draw light within. Photography – Tom Ross

Almost all the furniture is built-in or serves multiple functions to save space. Photography – Tom Ross

The void highlights the staircase, creating space, light and movement in a single gesture. Photography – Tom Ross

Storage can be found in every nook and cranny of the house. Photography – Tom Ross

A timber screen in the void reflects nature into the interiors. Photography – Tom Ross

The clever staircase doubles as a bookshelf. Photography – Tom Ross

‘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. Photography – Tom Ross

The main bedroom is now located upstairs, opening to a protected outdoor area. Photography – Tom Ross

The addition is set back from the street as not to dominate the landscape. Photography – Tom Ross

The existing bathroom was completely renovated. Photography – Tom Ross

Amelia Barnes
Thursday 25th August 2022

‘The house feels like one large piece of joinery.’ – Nick James

‘A  Periscope’ is a recently renovated and extended worker’s cottage in Melbourne by Architecture ArchitectureThe 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. 

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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