Chapter House

Chapter House

Tom Robertson Architects
Melbourne VIC, Australia | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Jack Lovel

Chapter House

Tom Robertson Architects as Architects

Chapter House takes its name from the architectural expression of the two significant stages in the home’s history. The first, a double-fronted Victorian terrace in Carlton, was the client’s childhood home. The second is a new contemporary addition that sits behind, gently engaging with the original, where the client now lives with her own young family.


Creating a conscious separation between the two was key to articulating the significance of each of these related yet distinct chapters. Many of the original details of the terrace were preserved, and the back of the house was retained. Between the back of the original and the new addition, a rectilinear skylight creates a gap and the floorplate steps down a level. As a result, moving through the original back door and into the new addition, a sudden sense of light and volume from above is experienced. The impression created is that one has exited the original home entirely before entering the new, despite the fact that the two are adjoined. In this way, the architecture offers a continual reminder of each chapter in the life of the home and its two generations.


In the new addition, a calm, minimal palette of burnished concrete, Carrara marble, dark timber joinery and cement render prevails. Expanses of glazing create light-filled spaces and visual connection with the rear yard and swimming pool. It was important to balance this lightness and openness with a sense of privacy, and, as the new kitchen and living space faces west, to provide shade from the strong afternoon sun. In a simple, efficient move, the upper storey is positioned to shade the lower level and to protect the threshold between the inside and the adjacent outdoor deck.


From the mindful preservation of the heritage details of the original terrace to the equally considered new addition, contrast defines and articulates context. By emphasising the individuality of the old and the new, Chapter House gives each its due.

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