A double fronted heritage victorian house in Northcote is transformed into a three level rock filled home around a large central courtyard for 2 scientists and their family.
Victorian terraces are traditionally extremely ‘stubborn’ to alter. There’s generally a central passage, with rooms flanked either side. This arrangement was partly retained in the renovation and extension to a double-fronted Victorian house in Northcote. However, there was an opportunity to create a more fluid response on this substantial inner-city site of approximately 800 square metres.
In contrast to the orthogonal front rooms, one used as a study and the other as a guest bedroom, the new contemporary wing is constructed in concrete block and features curvaceous openings and walls. Inspired by some of the homes and gardens visited by the owners in Barcelona, there’s a strong Mediterranean ambience – from rhythmic arched doors and windows to the shell-like form of the stairwell that connects the three levels of the new wing. This divergence from the straight and rectilinear, a characteristic of the Victorian period, to the more unexpected and curvaceous spaces, allows for surprises along the way.
The 15-metre-long passage links the open plan kitchen and living areas to the new wing which comprises the main bedroom and ensuite at ground level, with two children’s bedrooms above. Unusual to the brief was the request for a basement that would allow one of the owners to enjoy his computer gaming activities – with this basement referred to as the ‘Bat Cave’. Deep tile-lined skylights strategically placed throughout the home allow for natural light to permeate into the core of the floorplan, including the basement.
While the period home still retains its classical and traditional period features and comes with a fairly neutral colour palette, the new wing, which forms an arc around the side and main garden, is infused with bold colour – from ox blood for the kitchen joinery cupboards through to vibrant orange for an arched door leading to the scullery. And instead of large picture windows, Hindley & Co.’s design offers subtle apertures though the home’s journey to create a unique aspect from every room.
Designed for two scientists and their two children, the Northcote house also demonstrates a couple of highly intelligent people wanting to explore materials – visiting numerous stone quarries and selecting various stones rather than having the one ubiquitous look or feel through the entire house. While most greet the end of a long day by simply closing their bedroom door, here there’s almost a meditative quality along the long and curved passage – a time to pause and reflect first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
- Stephen Crafti
This project is located on the lands of the Wurundjeri People and we wish to acknowledge them as Traditional Custodians.