The personal home of architect Oscar Sainsbury was a decent size for his young family, but the floor plan was devoid of connections to the landscape. The existing Federation house instead centred around a bathroom, with only a small rear door connecting to the leafy landscape near the Yarra River in Fairfield, Melbourne.
As both the architect and owner-builder, Oscar resolved these issues and more by designing a new addition at the rear replacing the former kitchen and laundry with a larger open-plan living domain and separate den. The strategically-designed extension features five sides to optimally capture both the northern and western sun, with a wraparound outdoor deck framed internally by generous glass panes.
Oscar explains, ‘The project encourages a family life that is both contained within the central living space and also projected outside through the series of surrounding spaces. This connects the occupants to the generous garden landscape of the site and ultimately to the broader environment of the Yarra River.’
The bathroom previously at the centre of the home was repositioned, allowing for continuous views from the front door through to the backyard. A generous hallway sits in its place, serving as the meeting point between the solid, enclosed feel of the original home before the warm and open extension.
Oscar says making efficient design decisions within the tight budget, and undertaking the construction as an owner-builder, were critical to the success of the project. For this reason, the addition was built without steel, using only locally-available timbers for the frame, windows, and cladding. Recycled bricks from the demolition and existing kitchen appliances and fixtures were also reused where possible.
A timber pergola over the outdoor deck continues internally via the timber raft ceiling, further reinforcing the project as a series of connected internal and external spaces. Landscape design by Amanda Oliver Gardens softens the outdoor spaces with a layered, leafy palette reminiscent of the nearby river banks.
The completed home is now a calm space for the beauty and mess of daily life, forever framed by the ever changing landscape.