Architect: Folk Architects
Photographer: Peter Bennetts
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The aesthetic flavour steeped into heritage structures is hard to match in new builds – which is why so many residents brave the added cost, time and stress that renovating these involves. When achieved, however, the prize of pairing historic personality with present day function is worth almost any challenge.
Such was the case with Folk Architects’ intervention into a Melbourne Streamline Modern house, where the essential materiality, elegant geometries and spacious volumes of the existing dwelling have been deftly updated and expanded.
“The design evolved through the clients’ initial brief on ‘how we like to live’”, recall Folk Directors Christie Petsinis and Tim Wilson, “then, from our ongoing discussions and observations, we suggested that they experience living in the existing house for a period of time to develop an appreciation for the nuances of the space.”
The resulting brief is tellingly free of rigid requirements, instead focusing on qualities such as, in the architects’ words, “an emphasis on linkages between indoor and outdoor spaces for play, creating openness whilst providing a sense of sanctuary within, and a seamless stitch between the old and the new”
In response, and informed by the existing residence and its Streamline Modern themes, geometry and materials, the architects “reconfigured spaces within the home to better address the site’s orientation and context.” They have thus selectively extended, opened and re-finished the home, limiting visibility of new additions from the street so as to retain a modest façade and afford a moment of surprised delight to first-time visitors.
Accordingly, the upper-level addition “shelters the north-east facing outdoor space with a softness from the curved cantilever and glass that blurs the transition into the burgeoning garden, and references the playful and exaggerated curved forms of the main house, adopting a materiality that is honest, raw, warm and, importantly, flexible and low maintenance.” Throughout the house, “curved geometries are a nod to the built forms typical of the era while responding to the orientation and characteristics of the site.”
At the rear of the property, a free-standing Yoga studio bookends the plot with ameliorated views to the house through a large opening orientated towards the garden.
Internally, a timber-lined ceiling and concrete floor have been extended from the entry throughout the living room areas and into outdoor spaces – blending together existing and introduced finishes. “This materiality guides a spatial hierarchy,” comment the architects, “and the articulation of a curved glass wall frames views of the backyard.”
Sensitivity to the fabric of the project’s built environment extends beyond the home itself, with the architects being “mindful of providing an architectural intervention that respects the integrity of the existing street-scape and neighbouring residence.” They elaborate: “great care was taken to ensure that the alterations and additions to the Interwar period home were sympathetic to the local heritage guidelines, while providing the clients with considered and generous spaces that celebrated the architectural features of the existing home.”
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