South Yarra House
Renovation and renewal of a South Yarra heritage cottage to reintroduce the period features that have been stripped out over the years.
With increased land values, people are looking for smaller prized sites that offer the opportunity to create family homes. In the case of this property, approximately 180 square metres and just a stone’s throw from the Royal Botanic Gardens, the coveted location would benefit from a new two-storey home replacing a modest brick Victorian cottage. Added to and renovated over many years, the single-storey cottage had been stripped of most of its period detailing.
Given the dimensions of this site, with a frontage of only six metres, the challenge for this project was providing all the accommodation and amenities without a sense of feeling hemmed in or restricted. And given the street features many single and two-storey Victorian terraces, it was paramount that the new house would create a ‘dialogue’ with the many period homes along with a number of 1930s apartments in the narrow street.
Working closely with the City of Melbourne’s heritage advisor, architect Roger Beeston, director of RBA Architects, the scheme for the new two-storey house follows the rhythm of the streetscape - yet with a contemporary response. Constructed in red bricks (like many of the art deco apartments nearby), the design features perforated steel mesh for the recessed Juliet-style balconies – loosely referencing the Victorian terraces’ wrought iron balustrades. And as with neighbouring homes, there’s a small garden at the front that softens the edge to the pavement.
In spite of the modest dimensions of the site, there are three bedrooms (including the main bedroom) on the first floor, together with a further guest bedroom/play area on the ground floor. There’s also a generous open plan kitchen, dining and living area that extends across the site and connects to the rear garden via generous glazed doors. Here, every centimetre counted, so there’s a guest bathroom and laundry tucked under the stairs and strategically placed apertures to connect to a side garden to increase sight lines.
In contrast to the red brick exterior, the interior will feature soft natural materials and hues, with a pale clay brick wall in the dining area complementing the stone island bench and Tasmanian oak timber floors. High ceilings, as is often the case in Victorian homes, will feature in this new house, yet unlike the shortcomings of the past, it will include all the creature comforts along with sustainable principles, including solar panels on the roof. And while small projects such as this one, imbued with council restrictions and guidelines, can challenge most architects, Hindley and her team are finding that these opportunities can produce rewarding outcomes.
- Stephen Crafti
This project is located on the lands of the Bunarong People and we wish to acknowledge them as Traditional Custodians.