by Neometro
 

In the Spirit of Eltham

Architecture - by Stephen Crafti
  • Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

Eltham on Melbourne’s fringe established a reputation in the 1970s for those seeking an alternative way of living. Mud brick homes, including those designed by Alistair Knox, appear on  many bush blocks. This house in Eltham doesn’t have Knox’s illustrious signature. However, the mud brick house, originally built in the early 1970s, comes with some of the features found in many of his homes; mud brick walls, chunky beams, clerestory windows together with open fireplaces. “The owners (a couple) were also attracted to the home’s brick floors and recycled porthole  windows,” says architect Lynnsay Prunotto, director of Lume Architecture.

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

The Eltham house is located on an embankment, set a few metres above  the crescent. And even though the three-bedroom house is large enough for a couple, Lume Architecture’s clients were keen to extend its relatively modest footprint. “My clients love entertaining and regularly have family and friends staying over,” says Prunotto.

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

Prunotto was mindful of the Eltham domestic vernacular from the outset of this project. “I wanted to use materials that were in keeping with the mudbrick and timber dwelling and that would sit well in the bush landscape,” says Prunotto, who used corrugated steel and an extensive amount of timber, for both for the extensions interior and extensions.

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

The link joining the past and present is the original carport. However, there’s also a separate flight of external stairs that allows the two forms and external terraces to be connected.

Past the carport, a small flight of internal stairs leads to a new living pavilion, with four-metre-high ceilings. Clad in corrugated galvanised steel, this living area, with its built-in timber seating, sits comfortably against the established eucalypts. “I wanted to frame these trees as much as respond with appropriate materials,” she adds.

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

Lume Architecture located the second pavilion beyond the living area. Fully clad in spotted gum, the minimal rectangular pavilion includes the kitchen that leads to a broad protected terrace and swimming pool. There’s also a guest bedroom/study. “One of the most challenging aspects of this project was working on a steep, south facing slope,” says Prunotto, who used the pavilion buildings to shield the new north-facing living areas from the extensive street frontage and cold southerlies.

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

The clients’ brief also included new garaging that would replace the original rudimentary carport. With some excavation, a new garage was created. As with the living area, the garage doors are also clad in corrugated steel.

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

Photo: Lisbeth Grosmann

While the old and new sections of the Eltham house are clearly delineated, elements such as the original home’s structural timber posts and beams  are expressed in the new pavilions. Deep eaves are also carried through to these new pavilions to ensure outdoor living remains at the heart of the Eltham style. As with many of the early Eltham houses, timber features extensively on walls, floors and joinery.  “The house still has an earthy feel to it, but the spaces are considerably more generous and there remains  a strong connection to the landscape,” adds Prunotto.

Lume Architecture can be contacted on 03 9431 5717

 

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