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House 3

House 3

Project Description

The renovation and addition to this partly two-storey home was designed to accommodate an extended family of eight on a relatively modest site within a dense urban context. A bedroom for each of the four children, one for the parents andanother possibly for grandparents, generous living spaces and a swimming pool were key to the brief.
Situated in a relatively intact heritage streetscape in Balaclava, the project required an approach that restored the outward appearance of the original Victorian weatherboard that had become very dilapidated over time and that added the spaces required by the family. The strategy was to divide the house into two discreet buildings, old and new, separated by a large central courtyard and reconnected by a glazed link. The courtyard with its pool is conceived as an extension to the communal spaces of the home that surround it on three sides. It also gives the old building a formal autonomy.

The original building structure was stripped back to its salvageable elements and the footprint reduced to form a seemingly freestanding cottage at the front of the site. The exterior was then carefully restored to its original Victorian character. Internal spaces within the old house were reconfigured to become an office, library/living room and guest bedroom. The volume of the original structure was exploited in the new layout to create a grand living space.

A new two-storey, timber-clad building was constructed at the rear of the property, facing the old cottage across the courtyard and pool. Its angular form, as a response to planning constraints, evolved into a subtle geometry that influenced the plan of both buildings. The family’s bedrooms are upstairs. On the ground floor, an irregular open-plan living space flows around large cores of service space. A glazed link with built-in daybeds borders the pool, benefitting from the morning sun.

The original entry was replaced with a new access sequence leading from the street down the eastern side of the original house and into the central courtyard, where one is embraced by the home. Full height glazing on three sides allows views into all parts of the ground floor. Entry to the home is via the solid “front” door into the new building. If the weather permits it, glazed panels slide away to open the house out completely, integrating indoor and outdoor spaces. Travertine unifies the flooring internally and externally. Timber is celebrated in the beautifully crafted cladding and interior panelling.

This is not a big house. Well thought out planning and the integration of indoor and outdoor spaces have created a generous variety of communal spaces for the family that belie the actual size of the building. Private areas are modest and humble. It is an urban home that functions successfully for a multi-generational family and its evolving needs.


House 3

  • Balaclava, Victoria
  • Australia
Completion: 2014
Used materials
  • Metal
  • Wood

Type of Building

Architect Office