The New Old / Jessica Liew

© Jaime Diaz-Berrio

Location: Inner city Melbourne, Victoria
Area: 360.0 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Jaime Diaz-Berrio, Jessica Liew

Ground Plan

A house that maximizes a relatively small 385m² site in inner city Melbourne, providing bright but private living spaces. There is simple, relaxed feel about this house,  loaded with character from the natural materials used including concrete, recycled tumbled bricks and hardwood timber. These provide an honesty and rawness so rarely seen these days – an antithesis to the glitz, luxe and glamour often seen in popular magazine and tv programs. To the architect/owner, the aim was to build a relaxed, private home that was energy efficient, practical and imbued with character from the all-natural materials used – complementing their extensive collection of art and antiquities from their travels. The result is remarkable. A home that has outwitted even other architects who have mistaken it for a renovation, rather than a newly-built dwelling on what was previously the neighbors tennis court.

© Jaime Diaz-Berrio

Accommodation: double storey dwelling comprising formal living, library, cellar, study, casual living and dining, separate laundry, rumpus, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and 3 car accommodation.

© Jaime Diaz-Berrio

6 star energy rated: double glazed windows and skylights, double hung ceilings, double insulated stud walls,reverse brick veneer walls, underground water tank, hydronic slab heating, recycled bricks, custom double height pile wool carpet, regenerative hardwood timbers throughout.

© Jaime Diaz-Berrio

‘Switchable’ spaces including a study turning into a guest bedroom (murphy bed); rumpus or second study on level 1; and studio or 3rd bedroom upstairs.

© Jaime Diaz-Berrio

A courtyard sized to a car space for future additional parking requirement. Hidden storage and joinery throughout.Custom steel framed glass pivot doors replacing a conventional front door, the recessed floor mat is the only give away.

© Jaime Diaz-Berrio

Antique Chinese screen doors framing the fishpond corridor , mural by celebrated Melbourne street artists Ghostpatrol and Miso; retention of the original chain wire mesh tennis court fencing and tennis court roller; all rooms feature a garden, fishpond or courtyard aspect.

© Jaime Diaz-Berrio

Honesty: respect and transparency for all natural materials used – predominant palette comprising black concrete, white painted tumbled bricks and natural timber finish waiting to age with the house.

Cite: "The New Old / Jessica Liew" 20 Mar 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 19 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Melbourne needs more of this. I’m an inner Melbourne resident, currently at the pointy end of the design process of a new build on a similar infill site. I think you’ve nailed it. Congratulations! *Applause*

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Gorgeous design, I love the patina and the “ambiance” of the concrete floor. How did you get that finish?

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    Hi Paul, it’s a black concrete floor- concrete mix with black oxide with light grind and sealed with satin alcohol based non- toxic sealer.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Hi Jessica, you did a fantastic job with this design, congrats! The theme of ‘rawness’ is well accentuated by the type of face cladding.
      Is it some kind of concrete-color rough plastering you’ve used as facade cladding? Do you have any other references and/or info of this material? Thanks!

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Thank you Philip, the facade is a very rough stucco render all slapped on by hand to achieve the unevenness.

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