East Malvern House Reduction

East Malvern House Reduction

Rosstang Architects
Malvern East, VIC, Australia | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Tatjana Plitt

East Malvern House Reduction

Rosstang Architects as Architects

01 Project Description
A semi detached brick dwelling on a long, narrow allotment of 317sqm: it had been extended over time in an ad hoc manner, resulting in a dwelling that occupied most of its site. Interior spaces were cave like, internalised and disconnected from the outside, whilst outdoor areas were limited. The house and occupants had little room to breathe. With 4 living zones, 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms as well as with separate pantry and laundry rooms, the house was bursting at the seams. Armed with serious demolition intentions, we reduced the internal area of the house and returned space to the outside and garden. By making the house smaller, we made everything bigger, brighter and better.

02 Conceptual Framework
To meet the demands of a family with three young children, the internal ground floor area is reduced by 14sqm: from 128qm to 114sqm. A covered north facing alfresco courtyard with calming vertical garden and new outdoor kitchen is created. The reduction enables the house to be expanded and transformed.

With clients who love entertaining and spending time outside, large top hung external sliding doors delineate the opening and disappear along the external face of the adjacent walls. They enable the indoor and outdoor spaces to morph, creating a seamless transition and capturing the full northern aspect. Materials, colours and finishes are carefully selected to create an illusion of one space but with distinct zones and uses. Floor tiles flow continuously from interior to exterior. Mirrored finishes are used to reflect the outdoor areas inside. Exposed steel beams and columns inside and outside express the new structure that was inserted to support the remaining brick structure.

Existing circulation was convoluted, snaking in and out of spaces. Together with three distinct service rooms, the plan was inefficient and difficult to use. A new service pod is half the original footprint. Interventions are sleek, clutter free but fun, robust and hard wearing. The new lower stair landing doubles as the new storage joinery benchtop and a viewing platform out the window. The upper portions of the existing stair remain with only painting to match and morph with the new timber benchtops.

03 Response to Site Context
The house is situated on a local main road in an established suburb of East Malvern. Being adjacent to a row of shops, it has an urban inner city feel which is integral to the appeal of the property. The renovation works immensely improved spatial functionality and add value to the property, whilst maintaining the inherent nature of the semi detached dwelling. The transformations are completed with longevity and adaptability in mind.

04 Program Resolution
The client's brief to rationalise the convoluted rear living areas and circulation, whilst increasing and integrating the outdoor spaces are achieved. The new covered alfresco courtyard area created from the reduction of the ground floor, transforms the usability of the north facing courtyard. The 14sqm reduction enables expansion and a significant change to both the inside and outside. The final renovated spaces: internally and external have volume, lightness and well organised circulation paths. The brief has been fully implemented and fulfilled.

05 Final Outcome
With a relatively low building cost, the renovation works bring much value to the dwelling that now has a good balance of indoor and outdoor spaces. The needs of the young growing family will be fulfilled well beyond their immediate requirements. Through careful design and material selections, elements disappear and morph, creating a greater sense of volume and lightness. With the project delivered on time and within the set budget, the final outcome is a happy family with a house that feels and appears much bigger internally and externally.

Old spaces are reconsidered and rejuvenated with room to breathe and to shine, proving that bigger isn't always better!

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