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HOUSE house, Richmond, Australia by Andrew Maynard Architects.

Photos: Peter Bennetts.

The clue is in the odd sounding name. This project is two houses owned by the same family that have both been renovated and extended using the same architectural language.

The thrust of the design is to increase the site density by creating a house with three levels of accommodation, unusual in Australia as houses tend to be low and sprawling. But it is in the way the designers, Andrew Maynard Architects, have embraced the complexity of the Victorian houses and married this with the new architecture that is perhaps more unusual in Australia where reverence for older buildings is a relatively recent phenomenon than is common in many European cities.

The basic premiss of the design delicately renovates the Victorian houses then adds a new timber clad box to the rear yard. The new intervention is separated from the old buildings by glass infill which also introduces verticality in the spatial arrangements. Within the infill zone rises the spiral stairs accentuating the verticality and animating this space when seen from the exterior.

The language of the new extensions borrows from the materiality of the Victorian houses particularly in the use of red varnished timber. But the contrast I enjoy most is the rough finished brick side walls of the old house with the glass and timber cladding of the new.

From a European perspective it is fascinating to see the façades of the Victorian houses which are white with deep verandas providing shade, a response to the sunny climate. Recognizable as Victorian because of their richly ornamented façades, in other respects they seem quite alien. The new timber cladding and the utilitarian brickwork brings this perception back to an apparent notion of Dickensian London, or perhaps Victorian railway aesthetic.

In an odd kind of way, the buildings now seem more Victorian than the original building alone!


Photos: Michele Ong.

Photos: Peter Bennetts.

Photos: Michele Ong.

Photos: Peter Bennetts.

Photos: Peter Bennetts.

Gratitude to Archdaily.

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