We were privileged to design this house extension which was built by Inquire Invent. The house was a sturdy, but run down, Victorian double fronted brick house which sat in a row of Victorian houses in Albert Park. The back of the dwelling was a hotch-potch of rooms that backed onto a bluestone cobble laneway.
Our brief was to restore the front of the house back to it’s Victorian grandeur and then rebuild the kitchen, living room and dining room at the rear. A new master bedroom with a robe and and en-suite was to also be included at the rear along with space for a car. Our challenge was to fit all this accommodation into the limited area whilst minimising impacts to neighbours. To do this we twisted the upper floor by 90 degrees over the lower floor and cantilevered it over the car parking space.
Our inspiration for the rear came from the ramshackle nature of rear lanes with their mix of materials and textures. We also wanted the building to have the shed-like quality that you find in rear lanes and this is seen most clearly in the mix of pitched roof forms we utilised. The building is clad in charred cedar which was manufactured by the builder off site. It is an old Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban that was used as a way of making timber more fire proof and bug proof, it also extends the life of the timber. Downstairs we used walls from an old shed that was on site as concrete shuttering for a wall that slips from the inside to the outside. The in-situ wall now gives a reversed impression of that shed and acts as a reminder of what was once there. On that wall is a plaque, written by the owner which reads…
This house was purchased by Kasimiersz and Lucia in 1955. They were two displaced persons who had escaped a war torn Europe. They worked hard, found a new life and started a family. As with all of us they had successes and failures, especially in a country that was not always welcoming to foreigners. But time passed, they were accepted and they saw their lives grow and the house became a home. Their greatest achievements were their profound love for their children and the unshakable faith that all hope for the future was vested in these same children. If you are fortunate enough to live in this house I would ask that you think of those who have come before you and reflect on the love and hope that filled its rooms.