The area of Port Melbourne the site sits upon is a revitalised area rich in a diversity of contemporary architecture and restored workers cottages. House 184 reimagines the quintessential Victorian suburban home bridging the gap between its historical contexts with that of contemporary living. The house sits upon a tiny parcel of land and the client was keen to maximise the internal living areas without compromising the external space.
While the façade and its archetypal Victorian details were retained, a modern reinterpretation was built at the rear, housing the open-plan living areas that work to maximise the internal space. Louvered screens and full height bi-fold doors create a seamless connection between inside and out, extending the home’s footprint and connecting the interiors to the external environment – an important aspect of living in a dense urban environment.
Storage and function was the main driver for the design process of the interior spaces. The entry corridor opens up into the large open plan living area which incorporates the kitchen, dining and lounge seamlessly. The pantry and integrated fridge/freezer actually spills out into the lounge area but as it is concealed behind joinery which runs along the length of the room, it is not noticeable.
This allows space for a generous kitchen benchtop and island which is finished in beautifully textured superwhite marble which stands out as a feature against the soft blue joinery. The joinery has been left deliberately restrained, accented only by the different use of texture in the overhead cupboards, simple black handles and tapware, and a simple oak light fitting which links materially to the floorboards below. This timeless material palette echoes the sophisticated elegance of its past, present and future.
The sun-drenched bathroom takes full advantage of its location with a frameless glass skylight above the shower which returns down looking into a tiny side garden giving the illusion of showering in the open. A blue concrete basin which echoes the same blue as the kitchen sits proudly on the marble benchtop surrounded by simple yet interestingly shaped white tiles with a large circular brass mirror above. However, the key feature in the bathroom is the hidden European laundry concealed behind large sliding pivot panels.
Upstairs, the main bedroom opens onto a balcony with a gabled pergola above. The gabled roof form, left over from a previous renovation in the 90's was retained but extended over the balcony as a 'pergola' to allow plants to eventually grow over and soften the facade. The clover patterned balustrade under it is a contemporary expression of the original iron laceworks on the front facade connecting the modern rear facade to the heritage front.
Internally, the single pendant in the bedroom drapes asymmetrically over to one corner of the room, drawing the eye towards it. A table lamp on the other side balances the space. Floor to ceiling joinery in an oak veneer extends the length of the room with a tiny portal window cut.
Throughout the interiors a restrained palette of warm oak finishes with shades of greys is used throughout the home, connecting each room to the one before, creating a flowing experience that encourages feelings of calmness whilst linking the old with the new.
What was the brief?
The objective of this typical Port Melbourne workers cottage was to maximise the internal living areas without compromising the external space.
What were the key challenges?
This objective was made even more challenging due to its heritage context within its dense urban setting and the tiny parcel of land it sits on!
What were the solutions?
The solution was to retain the original character of the front part of the house but give the rear part a very modern interpretation. This was achieved by retaining and redefining (in some areas) the period features in the front rooms whilst opening up the living areas at the rear and creating a seamless indoor outdoor space, giving its inhabitants a connection to the external environment - all important aspects of living in a dense urban environment.