Humble house, with a simple and modest extension that meets the highest standards

Humble house, with a simple and modest extension that meets the highest standards

Architects: Rara Architecture
Location: Clifton Hill, Victoria, Australia
Year: 2016
Area: 2.239 ft²/ 208 m²
Photo courtesy: Christopher Alexander , Alison McWhirter Photography

“Our mission was to reinstate the old home’s glory through highlighting it’s simplistic characteristics and its overall form. We stripped it right back to a neutral state. The height of the rear addition had the potential to dwarf the original heritage home, so, sympathetically, we mimicked the roof angle, but didn’t hide it. Nothing about the addition is ‘trying to hide’ anything.


The old building transitions smoothly to the new, visually and emotionally, both internally and externally – the old floorboards transition to a new polished concrete slab, the old weatherboards transition to a perforated brick wall (outlining the central Zen garden) and then again to a solid brick wall.


The addition, which can be enjoyed from the rear lanes and from within the property stands proud, like the existing Edwardian; it stands high, and strong without any exaggeration or excess, it is brutal, minimal and statuesque: a monolith.


Our client hired us knowing the value an architect can add to the quality of their space. Bianca pushed us really hard to getting an exceptional work of architecture and not something easy they could ‘pull off’ as owner builders. This licensed us to explore some challenging design ideas that were pushed around in council for a while and was quite challenging structurally.


The result is outstanding. It’s a humble house, with a simple and modest extension that meets the highest standards – everything is considered. With a variety of different spaces to enjoy and storage for everything. No one would guess there were two toddlers living in the space.


The front half is a fully refurbished double fronted weatherboard Edwardian with a calm grey palette that really celebrates the old. The new mimics the striking form of the Edwardian, while employing the use of modern materials built to last. The design intent is to make the space feel endless and not confined; to be able to see right through the house, regardless of where you are. The new open plan living and dining areas boast ample space for entertaining by eliminating the island bench. The client wanted to pack away the amenities behind a wall; so we gave her exactly that.


Upstairs, we managed to avoid frosted windows by dropping fixed windows to the floor (more interactive for the children), while having the openable windows above 1.7m. The raked cathedral ceilings make the space feel larger than it is in the playroom/study area.


The site is less than 300sqm, making it difficult to design a functional 3 bedroom family home with enough subsidiary space for each family member that meets today’s market expectations. So we decided to forget about the market’s expectations and make a truly beautiful space that did all of those things simply and perfectly and suited for a family.


The result is a space that feels like it’s floating. Externally, the facade dons only a slim line window ribboning the bottom leaving a brilliantly blank monolithic wall looming over the back yard.”

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