What first appears as a purely decorative element—a sculptural facade cladding—plays an integral role in the way this Melbourne home functions.
Andrew and Christina purchased the home with their child Lola in 2016, as a near-original Edwardian built in 1913. It was previously owned by the one family for 100 years, and occupied for the last 40 years by a woman who was also born in the house.
The couple have since completed a major renovation and extension of the property, which is essentially a new home beyond the facade and front two rooms. Andrew and Christina worked to preserve the original detailing of these rooms, even replacing a front window installed in the ‘50s with a more sympathetic style. ‘Although the replacement windows from the Edwardian era did reduce some light in the front rooms, it brought the façade back to life,’ says Andrew.
Layan designed the renovation, arranging the house around a central courtyard, with strip skylights and a small winter garden to maximise light penetration.
Andrew has collaborated with Layan owner Johannes Hart for many years on boutique hotel projects, and the pair teamed up once again to design the distinctive screening for this home. As well as being a decorative feature, this screen works to control the north sun and satisfy overlooking planning requirements.
Andrew explains the design process, ‘Johannes and I worked on many options, from simple aluminium vertical blades to customised breeze blocks. I always wanted the screen to have a three-dimensional quality as this would create dynamic shadows. I was also inspired by the work of ‘60s sculptor Erwin Hauer and his anticlastic forms, and decided to try and invert what he did.’
Seeking a lighter effect, the pair eventually settled on a repeatable, translucent 3D module that could ‘diffuse light, allow soft and hard overlapping shadows, some transparency to outside, and ultimately self-illuminate at night in a monochromatic amber wavelength to aid melatonin suppression,’ Andrew explains!
‘Timeless, calm and seamless’ were the often-referenced words throughout the renovation, as reflected in the material palette. American oak veneer panels, terrazzo and walnut flooring, cream bricks, and surfaces painted Dulux Antique White U.S.A. form a neutral backdrop, allowing interest to come from the way light sculpts the spaces.
Andrew and Christina appreciate how their home, nicknamed the ‘Light House’, changes depending on the season, weather, and time of day. ‘The east sun is best appreciated upstairs as it filters through the screen, while the north sun grazes the brick walls through the skylight in the lounge, and the west sun is best appreciated from the study,’ says Andrew. ‘The best place depends on a combination of time of day and activity.’