Sister Tatlow’s

Sister Tatlow’s

Format Architects
Melbourne VIC, Australia | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Ernesto Arriagada

Sister Tatlow’s

Format Architects as Architects

This project involved the restoration and modification of an historically significant single storey Victorian era Italianate villa in inner Melbourne. The brief was to combine the historic original building with a new addition to create a home for contemporary living.


The original house remains largely intact to retain historical value whilst the new additions provide an opportunity to add contemporary amenity commonly lacking in Victorian era houses; including providing new spaces which are well oriented, naturally lit & ventilated and meaningfully connected to outdoor space. This project offered a range of opportunities to engage with tradition in different ways including the faithful restoration of traditional features, the reinterpretation of existing architectural ideas such as the iron columns of the traditional veranda and the introduction of new discordant ones like the use of Perspex to amplify the characteristics of the original house and provide a new way of seeing the old. The building functions as dwelling and display for the owner’s contemporary Aus/NZ art collection. Consideration of the house as both gallery and home were considered during the design stages and influenced decisions such as window placement, and the play of natural and artificial light. Spaces are designed to accommodate a wide variety of sculpture, hanging wall art, video and light installations inserted into the everyday domestic setting of kitchen, pantry and powder room.


The clients were also keen to adapt and reuse steel framed windows reclaimed from a previous project.


The extension is legible as distinct works while being sympathetic in scale to the original house. The new built form is understated when viewed from the street. The new north facing 2 level extension has been located to the rear behind a brick garage and pool area partly over clad in black Perspex which mirrors the lush garden and the detailed Victorian façade in the distinctive large setback on approach to the front door. New works are contemporary in appearance and reference a more industrial take on traditional Victorian era materials such as recycled brick and steel.


The existing house was carefully restored and upgraded to include new artificial lighting, heating, mechanical ventilation and increased thermal performance. More robust interventions to the original house included demolition of some internal walls in order to better connect spaces. Detail design components include the adaptive reuse of steel window frames and recycled bricks used in the new addition. The transition between old and new is expressed with a glazed atrium framed in steelwork and glass. Steelwork extends outside to form a colonnade facing the pool area and references Victorian iron detailing including clustered iron columns to the original front veranda.


This has been a collaborative process with valuable input from all disciplines. Landscape design plays a central role in the design with most rooms enjoying direct access to the outdoors. The landscape varies as the house progresses in formality from public to private. The landscape reinterprets traditional details including the tessellated motifs of the front veranda tiling.

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