Galv Mountain house is the renovation and extension of a tiny Richmond cottage on a narrow street, deep in the densest heart of Richmond. The quaint Victorian cottage had been standing for over 150 years with a colourful past housing everyone from workers in the neighbourhood factories and notorious members of Melbourne’s underbelly to the inner city loving residents of today.
The diminutive nature of the house, the lot and the street all conspired to make the house feel too cramped and its resident needed just a bit of extra room. Its future enjoyment was further threatened by neighbouring development that would take away what modest aspect and light it received. The only way was up.
Our mission was, as the builder put it, to “build a ship in a bottle”.
What was the brief?
Galv Mountain House is a little project to update a tired old workers cottage into a 21st century home with just a bit more room and futureproofed access to a bright, sunny outlook.
The old cottage itself was in serious need of rejuvenation. The old roof was sagging, damp and termites had moved in and things were all getting a little more crooked by the day. A big dose of renewal - stumps, framing, roofing and cladding - has now set it up for a long future.
With the addition of new 1st floor space, the house found a new bedroom suite, study + library as well as a sunny northern aspect that cannot be built out.
The cottage now takes full advantage of its bright new outlook with a house-wide strip of sunny windows and a tiny pocket roof deck nestled between the refreshed old roof and the new roof mountain of galv. The little deck pokes its head above the densely packed neighbourhood to enjoy a bask in the sun, views of the iconic Richmond skyline and the roar of the MCG.
How is the project unique?
The historic nature of the area and its pattern of densely packed houses meant that amenity, private space and conserving heritage fabric are top priorities. Strict heritage overlays limit external changes to the house with any new additions required to be “hidden” beyond the ridgeline of the existing house. Over-shadowing and other amenity controls further sliced, diced and snipped away at what could be built. The distinctive shape of Galv Mountain is carved by the many constraints of the site.
The 1st floor and roof is clad in galv, or galvanised steel/iron, a long lasting and low-maintenance material with a long history reaching from the time of the original house to today. It is both in keeping with the palette of a historic street as well as being bright and contemporary. Its mild industrial flavour is the perfect foil for the re-painted dusky pink weatherboards of the old house - a real survivor who is both tough and sweet.