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  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Houses
  4. Australia
  5. Clare Cousins
  6. 2013
  7. St Kilda East House / Clare Cousins Architects

St Kilda East House / Clare Cousins Architects

  • 01:00 - 24 July, 2014
St Kilda East House / Clare Cousins Architects
St Kilda East House / Clare Cousins Architects, © Shannon McGrath
© Shannon McGrath

© Shannon McGrath © Shannon McGrath © Shannon McGrath © Shannon McGrath + 18

Text description provided by the architects. Located in St Kilda East, this double fronted Victorian house offered ample space for a young family; however, brick lean-tos at the rear prevented an outlook to the generous back yard. This project opens up the plan to construct layered sight lines to the garden while maintaining a cellular logic of rooms, recalling the Victorian era.

Two wings, established in the original plan, are organised into living and sleeping zones. The threshold space in-between forms a dining room and courtyard, both with a herringbone paved floor, inviting the outdoors into the centre of the house. Introducing northern light deep into the plan, the courtyard permits deliberate visibility between living zones and the sleeping wing, particularly to the play area and bedroom of the client’s only child.

© Shannon McGrath
© Shannon McGrath

The footprint of the new living space occupies that of the original red brick lean-to. Reversing the pitch of the original roof, the new volume soars to a 4.5m high volume punctuated by glass apertures which cast awakening morning light to the kitchen. Surrounded by garden, the house now acknowledges its environment, in particular the living room window seat which draws both the interior and occupant out into the garden.

Design contribution to the lives of the inhabitants

This double fronted Victorian house offered ample space for a young family; however, brick lean-tos at the rear prevented an outlook to the generous back yard. This project opens up the plan to construct layered sightlines to the garden while maintaining a cellular logic of rooms, recalling the Victorian era.

© Shannon McGrath
© Shannon McGrath

Designed to suit family life, circulation paths are reorganised to enhance a private wing and public wing with sightlines between. Sightlines between their only child’s bedroom and the living area permit visual connectedness between Evie (aged 4) and her parents while utilising different zones of the house.

Relationship of the built form to the context of the project

In contrast to contemporary open plan ‘box-on-the-back’ additions, the project involves a series of additions woven into the fabric of the original building.  The majority of the house was retained and restored and the extent of the new works minimised.

Floor Plan
Floor Plan

In order to maintain access to existing garage, the south eastern corner of the existing house could not be extended.

Bricks salvaged from the lean-tos are repurposed as the mottled rear facade, a memory of the red and painted structures that they replaced. The slate roof was reinstated at the front restoring the façade to its original condition.

© Shannon McGrath
© Shannon McGrath

Program Resolution

Two wings, established in the original plan, are organised into living and sleeping zones. Spatial planning is driven by the cellular logic of the Victorian house, creating a series of intimate and interconnected spaces. Sliding doors between zones allow the family to open up or close off rooms. Large sliding doors to the rear bedrooms permit play to extend into the corridor and adjacent courtyard.

Nestled between the two wings of the house is the dining room. A threshold space set down with the courtyard  both with a herringbone paved floor, inviting the outdoors into the centre of the house. 

© Shannon McGrath
© Shannon McGrath

Integration of allied disciplines

The new plan carefully considers sightlines opening up a strong visual connections through the house and to the garden. The house now acknowledges its environment, in particular from within the living room where the window seat draws both the interior and occupant into the garden

Landscape designer Fiona Brockhoff, a good friend of the owner, created a casual, family friendly landscape with layered perimeter planting to provide privacy and buffer views to and from surrounding buildings. Trees are planted in close proximity to the rear east facing windows providing a layered green outlook and solar protection to glazing.

© Shannon McGrath
© Shannon McGrath

Cost/value outcome

The majority of the house was retained and restored and the extent of the new works was kept to a minimum. Robust and economical materials are chosen for their familiarity, warmth, and ability to withstand the knocks of family life. Bricks salvaged from the lean-tos are repurposed as the mottled rear facade, a memory of the red and painted structures that they replaced. Materials are selected for their ability to patina with time, often unfinished and requiring minimal maintenance and upkeep. The project was constructed for an average of $2186/m2.

Sustainability

Retaining and restoring the majority of the original period house kept new works to a minimum, allowing for a bigger garden and smaller environmental footprint. Robust and economical materials are chosen for their familiarity, warmth, and ability to withstand the knocks of family life. Bricks salvaged from the lean-tos are repurposed as the mottled rear facade, a memory of the red and painted structures that they replaced. Materials are selected for their ability to patina with time, often unfinished and requiring minimal maintenance and upkeep.

Floor Plan
Floor Plan

The original house had limited outlook to the rear garden (blocked by lean-tos). The design fosters a greater engagement with the landscape and exterior. The lower ceiling height of the bedroom wing and skylights inject northern light deep into the plan and create new opportunities for passive cross-ventilation.

Flexible use of space is encouraged with the inclusion of large sliding doors, enabling rooms to be opened up or closed off, providing flexible use as the family grows or if a new family was to occupy the space.

© Shannon McGrath
© Shannon McGrath

The project incorporates a large rainwater tank for irrigation and toilet flushing, solar hot water, Argon filled double-glazing, LED lighting and bulk insulation retrofitted to original ceiling cavities. 

Heritage Significance

As the front of the original house was in fairly good order, this project aimed to retain and enhance the cellular layout of the original Victorian house. In contrast to contemporary open plan ‘box-on-the-back’ additions, the project involves a series of additions woven into the fabric of the original building.  The majority of the house was retained and restored and the extent of the new works minimised.

© Shannon McGrath
© Shannon McGrath

Slate roof tiles have been reinstated in keeping with the era of the house, replacing metal mock-tile roofing installed in the 1970’s. The discreet extensions are not visible from the street and engage in a materially sympathetic response to the existing heritage fabric. The original brick skin of the house is revealed as an internal material, highlighting the stitching of new to old. The walk in robe and shower is ‘shoe-horned’ into a sliver of land between polychromatic brickwork and a boundary brick wall. Windows and a glazed ceiling immerse the occupants in the outdoors and inject light into the adjacent ensuite, while patterned tiled floors in these spaces reference the tessellated tiles at the Victorian entry. 

Cite: "St Kilda East House / Clare Cousins Architects" 24 Jul 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/525325/st-kilda-east-house-clare-cousins-architects/> ISSN 0719-8884