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An Architect’s Family Home That Embraces The Landscape

Architecture

The existing Federation home of architect Oscar Sainsbury was perfectly functional but lacking in personality and connections to its leafy landscape in Fairfield, Melbourne.

Oscar personally designed the recent alterations and additions project, inserting a series of considered openings and a carefully positioned addition made from locally-sourced timber. 

The new pavilion prioritises family connection with openings to the outdoors on three sides, supplemented by smaller secondary spaces for private individual moments.

22nd August, 2022

Oscar Sainsbury was both the architect and owner-builder on the recent renovation of his Fairfield, Melbourne family home. Photography – Rory Gardiner

The renovation of the double-fronted federation house uses a series of considered openings and a carefully positioned addition to maximise the size and feel through connection to outdoor spaces. Photography – Rory Gardiner

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. Photography – Rory Gardiner

A 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. Photography – Rory Gardiner

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. Photography – Rory Gardiner

The former kitchen and laundry were replaced with a larger open-plan living domain and separate den. Photography – Rory Gardiner

Responding to a flood overlay that prohibits building below the existing floor level, the new rear extension hovers above the ground plane with the backyard reached through a series of oversized concrete steps which double as seating benches Photography – Rory Gardiner

A generous hallway serves as the meeting point between the solid, enclosed feel of the original home before the warm and open extension. Photography – Rory Gardiner

Landscape design by Amanda Oliver Gardens softens the outdoor spaces with a layered, leafy palette reminiscent of the nearby river banks. Photography – Rory Gardiner

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. Photography – Rory Gardiner

Greenery growing on the property garage. Photography – Rory Gardiner

At the front of the site, the original brick section of the house, containing the bedrooms and bathrooms, maintains its solid enclosed feel. Photography – Rory Gardiner

One bedroom in the original part of the home was converted into two bathrooms. Photography – Rory Gardiner

The Federation home now better embraces its leafy surrounds. Photography – Rory Gardiner

The nearby Yarra River. Photography – Rory Gardiner

Amelia Barnes
Monday 22nd August 2022

‘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.’ – Oscar Sainsbury

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.

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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