While embodying a decidedly contemporary architectural expression, Melfort by Conrad Architects reimagines a grand Georgian-style residence (c.1935) as five townhouses with a deep respect for site heritage and context. Director Paul Conrad says the project exemplifies his practice’s commitment to pursuing architecture that is classically minimal and restrained, yet layered with a depth of emotion, sensitively balancing the heritage and the contemporary. “Working with historical buildings brings the challenge of managing aging structures, but it also brings great opportunity to harness the richness of character that has developed over time,” says Conrad. “Georgian architecture is characterised by balance.
It is typically symmetrical with classical proportions, and ornamentation is used sparingly. We drew on this approach, in a contemporary manner.” With the first of five townhouses located within the original structure, a new addition was added to the rear, accommodating four new homes. While a common design language was employed throughout, the layering of Georgian detailing was omitted from the new structure to avoid any sense of reproduction. The interior design was approached with a distinctly European sensibility. Restrained, yet with moments of fine detailing. A soft, neutral palette is expressed through oak flooring and kitchen joinery; with Cararra marble used throughout kitchens, bathrooms and ornate fireplaces. Joinery was consciously conceived as distinct furniture pieces, reading as contemporary furniture elements within a historical interior. Located in leafy Hawthorn, this five-townhouse project is a fantastic example of a low density development in one of Melbourne’s highly desirable inner pockets.