by Neometro

The Kite House

Architecture - by Stephen Crafti

This block-fronted late Victorian home in Albert Park, like many homes in the bayside neighbourhood, sits in a heritage streetscape. However, unlike many of its neighbours, this one sits on an irregular battle-axe-shaped site and has two street frontages.

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Photo by Peter Bennetts

Although Roper couldn’t alter the façade due to heritage restrictions, he was able to rework the house into a contemporary home. “The brief wasn’t that unusual, in terms of opening up the rear of the house to the north garden. But the existing rooms needed to be reconsidered,” says Roper.

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Photo by Peter Bennetts

So part of Architecture Architecture’s scheme was rationalising the home’s existing floor plate. What was the formal living room became the main bedroom, with an ensuite bathroom literally at the ‘doorstep’. And what would have been a formal living area at the front of the house is now a study with a walk-in dressing area leading from the main bedroom. “The spatial planning really needed to be reworked to create a main bedroom wing on one side (within the original house) and guest bedroom and bathroom on the other side of the main passage,” says Roper.

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Photo by Peter Bennetts

However, relocating rooms within the original structure formed only a portion of what was required to turn the house around. One of the main problems was the poor connection to the north-facing rear garden, ‘stifled’ by the lean-tos tacked on at the rear. “The form of the new wing came from the shape of the site,” says Roper, who penned out a line at a 45-degree angle to capture the northern light, and importantly, connect the side garden to the back yard. “I wanted to create the one ‘gesture’ rather than segment the site,” he adds.

In creating the triangular-shaped extension, Roper created a protected courtyard to one side of the house, featuring a series of pocket-shaped vestibules, each one covered with a translucent roof and each with a built-in seat. And in one niche, a birch tree pierces the roofline. “These birch trees form an important sight line from the new living areas, as well as from the main bedroom,” says Roper.

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Photo by Peter Bennetts

Pivotal to Architecture Architecture’s design is the angular triangular-shaped ceiling constructed in plaster with celestial windows, also triangular in shape, allowing light to permeate the new open plan kitchen, dining and living areas. And to strengthen the connection to the outdoors, Roper extended the timber battens used in the periphery of the living area to the outdoor soffit. “Geometry forms a strong part of this project, as well as getting the detail exactly right,” says Roper who included three box gutters on the roof that extend to one side of the house. “These downpipes respond to the slender trunks of the birch trees.” Including a white-painted rendered brick wall as a kitchen splash back rather than traditional tiles, also connects the indoors to the exterior.

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Photo by Peter Bennetts

The angles continue in the freestanding garage and studio. An angled timber canopy is slightly evocative of architect Peter McIntyre’s work from the 1950s (think Star Gazers house in Studley Park, Kew). “The structure continues the pattern of garages in the street but in a distinct and contemporary way. I was also mindful of the relationship between the triangular extension and this studio/garage,” he adds.

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Photo by Peter Bennetts

This house in Albert Park continues to ‘read’ as one of many period homes in the streetscape. However, beyond the front doors, there’s now a fine contemporary home, one that allows the owners to enjoy the garden, as much as walking to the nearby beach. “It was challenging setting up the geometry, both with the roof and the new brick walls. But simply adding a glass box onto the house just wouldn’t have felt the right thing to do,” says Roper.

151118 Merton Place 0247+0250

Photo by Peter Bennetts

Architecture Architecture can be contacted on 03 9417 0995


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